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  1. Right, so first things first: characterization is tricky. It’s tricky when you're writing something completely original, and it’s arguably even trickier when writing something based off of someone else’s work, i.e. fanfiction, because then there are standards. Y’all know what I’m talking about: when you’re trying so hard to write in a certain scenario or ship, that things just spiral out of control until the characters you know and love are unrecognizable like the glorious tirefire that’s My Immortal. Take Draco/Hermione, for example. In canon, these two despise each other: Draco calls Hermione Mudblood, she hexes him, he becomes a Death Eater, she fights the Dark Lord, and so on and so forth. Hermione eventually marries Ron Weasley, and has Hugo and Rose. Draco gets together with Astoria Greengrass, and has little Scorpius. Scorpius marries Rose. Dang it. Let's try it again— Albus marries Scorpius. Must... focus... away.... from.... ships. Everyone lives happily ever after—more or less. There! Canon's finished, heroes and villains get their ending, the next generation begins, blah, blah, blah. Everything's cut and dry for the most part (Seriously, some of the fan theories I've seen are both awesome and terrifying. Leave my childhood alone!) But then this is where the fangirls and fanboys come in. Maybe you don't agree with a decision Ms. Rowling made in one of the books. Maybe you want to know what happened if Harry hadn't gone ahead and cursed Malfoy in Half-Blood Prince. Maybe you just think Neville and Harry would look adorable together (Which...yeah. You're not wrong there. Artists, I salute you so much). Maybe you think Lavender Brown got a bad rap. But no matter your ships, or your what-if scenarios, choosing characterization over getting right to the good stuff is what makes them believable. Unfortunately the reverse is something that can plague me some other authors who totally aren't named Ausra. Nope, not at all. Anyway. That one's a blog post for another day, seeing as it involves flashbacks, Mary Sues, and deciding that accepting dares from eleven-year-old versions of your friends is a good idea (Spoiler alert: It's a terrible idea). Back to the main point: Let's take Draco Malfoy/Hermione Granger, for a rather famous example. While I normally neither read nor write Dramione, I have seen a few of the many well-received and excellently written fics featuring the couple. And they are good. But, what makes those particular stories so well-written, and consequently widely enjoyed, isn’t the trope-y fluff and angst put in for readers to enjoy, even for the ones like me who don't normally ship it, is that tricky thing we call characterization. The thing is, most of the time, you don’t want to see—running with the Dramione example—is the erstwhile Miss Granger and Mister Malfoy immediately making lovey-dovey eyes at each other, and proclaiming eternal love at first sight when they meet, because that would make absolutely no sense (Most of the time). In their canon circumstances, when they first meet, Hermione is a know-it-all Muggle-born too stubborn for her own good, while Draco is busy falling in line with his parents' espoused values as a pure-blood racist loudmouth. Don't look at me like that. You know it's true. For a good story that doesn’t leave us wondering if we even just read about Draco Lucius “Foul Evil Little Cockroach” Malfoy and Hermione Jean “Filthy Mudblood” Granger, and not just some OCs with their names, these two have to work past the issues they have both with each other and themselves. For example, Malfoy would probably have to accept his father's ideals were utter poisonous drivel if he ever wanted to stand a chance asking Hermione out on a date, and probably throw in some serious groveling and a pardon signed by the Minister of Magic as well, depending where he is in the canon timeline. Additionally, if you run with canon, he would probably have to fight his family at some point (Which would make excellent angst) and is something that would be cause for significant conflict. Does he care for Hermione enough to stand against from his parents, his family, to fight against what he's been taught to revere for most of his life? Does he even want to try, or just convert her to his side? As for Hermione, it would be a case of overcoming old biases and bad blood. She would have to accept the possibility that one of her oldest enemies and school rivals has fundamentally changed. Most likely, she would also struggle to accept that the world isn't all black and white in this instance—he may still not be aligned with her morals. Does she care enough to possibly stand against Harry and Ron—her oldest friends, and who have proven on multiple occasions to loathe Draco Malfoy—as well as be essentially responsible for separating him from the people he's loved all his life? Or, is she being seduced by the idea of the Dark Arts as well as the idea of the blond Slytherin in question? All of these are great character questions you see authors asking when writing them together. And this isn't even without diverging from canon even further. What if Hermione was born to magical parents, and was simply raised by dentists, or if Malfoy was born a Squib? How would this affect their dynamic? Characters are so much fun to mess with. Anyway, the point is, characterization is hard in fanfiction, because there are certain standards you have to adhere to. For example, Hermione Granger is a studious bookworm, James T. Kirk is a charming flirt, Anakin Skywalker is a reckless tactician, et cetera. There are certain things you simply cannot deviate from without having your story labeled immediately as out of character, not without excellent in-story reasons. Hermione can’t suddenly become obsessed with her looks and hate studying for no reason, Jim can’t suddenly find human interaction repulsive and become an introvert just because he woke up on the wrong side of the bed, and Anakin can’t suddenly become this great cautious thinker out of the blue. That’s what Obi-Wan is for. Unless, of course, you change something vital about their backstory. They could be raised by someone else, never be introduced to a vital event in their past, change an aspect of their integral abilities, change their species, even, or you could gender-flip. The last can be both easy and difficult for many reasons in the Harry Potter 'verse. For the latter it can be because of many—let’s call them precedents—precedents to found on the Internet are either essentially Harry with the necessary girl parts and some horrific variant on Harriet for a name (Boring), or it’s poorly written smut with no care for personality (Don’t get me started). Rarely, there is Transgender Harry, but that’s a whole other can of worms, much rarer, and very interesting, with different things to keep in mind. All of them very easy lazy trends to fall behind. But, there is another option, that fewer writers take: They re-work the character from the ground up—or at least, partially from the ground up. It’s a large task to do it completely, and to be honest, whoever is capable of doing it has my complete and utter respect. I am not one of them, believe me. More of it was retroactive where I'm concerned. But back to the point: gender-flipping our beloved main protagonist, or any Harry Potter character, can also be one of the easiest things in the world, when you take into account two things: one, you have seven books, eight movies, an entire website, and assorted material to work off of for personality, and two—and this is unique to Harry—he is something of a blank slate, in some respects. Think about it. What do you know about Harry the person? Not his parents, or life events, or why Tom Marvolo Riddle wanted him dead. Think about his favorite color, hobbies, worst memories of Dudley, what he did with Ron and Hermione on a day-to-day basis when they just hung out, not attempting to solve the latest mystery plaguing the school. Was he a dog person or a cat person? Did he have a favorite professional Quidditch team? Any personal pet peeves? Was he a caffeine addict? Any embarrassing incidents or inside jokes with his classmates not directly related to the DADA teacher trying to kill him? What made Harry James Potter unique from every other student in the school as a person? I would bet a lot of Galleons that no one outside Miss Rowling herself could definitively answer all of the questions posited above. Sure, we know plenty of personality traits, his extracurriculars, values, plenty about who his loved ones are, but the everyday stuff—things you would know about your best friend, more or less—is in somewhat limited supply in canon, for a lot of good reasons. This, however, does leave many, many, doors open for fanfic writers. Because the lack of those idiosyncrasies, the stuff sometimes not given to Harry in favor of something else needed to advance the overall plot? That’s our bread and butter, where those drabbles and one-shots and plot bunnies that go bump in the night come from. (And the memes. We can never forget the memes.) So, what do we do, with this empty space of detail about our favorite characters? What writers have done since time immemorial. Make stuff up. Sort of. Reverse-engineering would probably be a better term for it. You take what you know what you know about the character, and the people around them, create a working theory (My science teachers would be so proud of me), and then you start making stuff up. This can cut both ways, of course, and send a character on a one-way ride into OOC territory, but it's by and large what many authors due successfully, and often with fantastic results. To take a slightly boring, linguistically nerdy example: determining the name of a Female!Harry Potter, going all the way back to the genderbending idea. For starters, you can take the normal mainstays—Harriet, Hariah, Hari, Hariel—out, as it’s unlikely that people named Lily and James, and who named their son Harry, not Hadrian or Henry or Harrison, would name their daughter something like that. Also, most of them are really overused. Instead, there are several routes you can take. The most popular outside the H-names tend to be a flower name similar to Lily and Petunia (Rose, Dahlia, Marigold, Poppy, etc), a royal name in the same vein of James or Harry, a nickname for Henry (Wilhelmina, Josephine, Victoria, etc), or a name appropriate for a babe born during a war (Hope, Nadia, Faith, Constance, etc). You’re more likely to have a free reign on middle names, be it Lily, James, Euphemia (Harry’s canon grandmother), Dorea (She was considered Harry’s grandmother until revealed otherwise), or anything else. Besides the name, there are many more examples of characterization in creating a Female!Harry, but the main thing is to make a unique character that will keep the reader interested in a new character arc while still recognizable when compared to the original, the reactions of the people around the protagonist is an excellent place to start. As far as personality traits go, we know, or can infer, a lot about the supporting cast and how they might react. To begin with, it is most likely that if Petunia had found a niece who more resembled her sister than her hated brother-in-law that she would have either treated her more nicely, or far more strictly than Harry ever was. Vernon could potentially go either way, while Dudley will follow the lead of one of his parents, most likely. Professor McGonagall could show up instead of Hagrid to meet the child of her departed friends, with Sirius Black in Azkaban and Remus Lupin MIA. But I’ll stop from jumping down that particularly rabbit hole, since this is where different interpretations of canon and different choices of the author, all with their own validity, come into play. Perhaps our Female Harry has flipped looks, with her mother’s hair but her father’s eyes, or she still retains the looks of Canon Harry. Maybe she's the spitting image of one of her parents. Or, you choose to interpret the Dursleys’ treatment of Harry as far worse than any specific incident mentioned in canon, and she is consequently treated horribly, either of which would have lasting repercussions on her personality when she boards the Hogwarts Express for the first time. What repercussions, you ask? That's up to whoever's writing the story. Thirdly (But most assuredly not lastly), there is the matter of the prophecy. Once again, there are several options here: you could have Neville become the Chosen One and the Boy-Who-Lived; or, not necessarily the Boy-Who-Lived, depending on how you want the story to go. Lily and James were both actively fighting against Voldemort, defying him three times. They would be considerable targets for the Death Eaters, even worthy of attention from the Dark Lord himself. Lily’s protection of Harry could possibly prove unique. Or she could be trading how-to-protect-your-child-and-defeat-Dark-Lords tips with Alice Longbottom. Maybe it's someone else entirely! (C'mon, I need a Padma and Parvati are the Twins-Who-Lived story. It'd be epic.) Or you could just change the pronouns of the prophecy, and keep things the same. I might over-complicate things sometimes. Possibly. Probably. I beg the Fifth? Writing is hard sometimes, Internet friends. Though, I’m reliably informed it gets easier, and it does have so many awesome moments (Seriously, has anyone else ever had that moment where you're writing something, and you come up with this great twist or plot point, and you start cackling at your own brilliance? It's one of the best feelings ever). Apparently, it’s also a good thing when the voices in your head talk to you and sound like your characters, and much saner than just having your muse shriek at you all day. I have my doubts. However, I will admit it is far more organized—everyone tends to take turns. I imagine it's the only time in Voldemort's life he's ever willingly waited in line. "I like the notion of making stuff up or letting your imagination go away with you." -Stevie Jackson Note: This blog post was spawned via reading some posts on the Character Name Help and OC Name Inspiration threads on HPFT, as well as several posts in the Ship Talk part of HPFT, as well as Professor Tolkien, may his royal linguistic geniusness rest in peace.
  2. Rumpelstiltskin

    Planning Your Novel

    How to Plan and Outline Your Novel Planning isn’t for everyone -- it wasn’t ‘for me’ either until I found an outlining system that worked for me. Since I started planning and outlining more thoroughly, I’ve found that I no longer suffer from writer’s block (not yet, anyway *crosses fingers*). Now, if I’m not writing when I could be writing (like right now), it’s because I’m being a procrastinator. Let me begin by saying that planning is not for everyone -- I know some people who have the ability to sit down and type, planning as they go and keeping track of everything in their headspace. Especially with a novel, this doesn’t work for me (my headspace is filled up with thoughts of when I’m going to have pizza next). Other people work with varying degrees of planning from basic plot and character ideas to full on detailed outlines and supplemental material. I fall in the latter category. Also, the method I’ll be using below might not work for everyone because everyone is different and will have their own style of doing things. I’ve even seen one writer start with (lengthy) individual character plots, print them out, cut them up, and put them into sequential order. I would never be able to keep track of all those bits of paper, but that’s what works for her. Here’s an example of how to plan your novel using a made-up story synopsis that will probably be lacking. Where to Start? Again, I’m just going to show you where I like to begin planning, and things may be a little different for you. Maybe you like to come up with your characters before writing your plot, or maybe you like writing the end of your novel first and work backward to the introduction. Whatever works. Step One: The Basic Plot Points The first thing I do is jot down the basic plot points, without any detail whatsoever. This helps me get the general idea of how long my story is going to be. (Generally speaking, the more plot points, the longer the story and the few plot points, the shorter the story. Once again, this isn’t always true in all cases.) Example: Boy meets Girl Boy falls in love with Girl Girl doesn’t notice Boy Boy gains superpowers from eating radioactive broccoli Girl is abducted by Evil Mutated Vegetable Warlord Boy fights Evil Mutated Vegetable Warlord and all of his Evil Mutated Vegetable Minions (probably with help) Boy saves the world | Boy saves Girl Girl falls in love with Boy Boy and Girl live happily ever after. Step Two: The Details Now that you know where your story is headed, it’s time to fill in some of the details. You can do this by separating your story into three parts (part one, part two, and part three). For now, you won’t be getting overly specific, but it should clarify some of the greater plot points. Part One: The Introduction This is where you’ll be introducing your characters, namely your protagonist. This is also where you’ll be creating the setting of the story (which can be changeable, of course) and where you’ll begin to introduce problems that your main character will be facing. Remember that nobody else will be seeing this except for you (unless you show them), Example: Boy lives in Nowheresville, New York in 2017. He’s 16 and is attending Nowheresville High. He has two friends, Comic-Relief-Bob and Steve, and is the head of the AV club. He idolizes Girl, the Mary Sue cheerleader who is beautiful and excels in everything (except for not getting caught by monsters and being a damsel in distress). Boy tries everything to impress Girl: reciting Shakespeare outside her bedroom window at night, buying her lots of expensive things like bouquets of flowers and concert tickets, even decorating her locker daily with paper-mache hearts and love notes. Nothing works. One dreary October day, Boy was eating in the cafeteria with Bob and Steve. Bob says some funny things to establish that he is the funny one. Steve agrees with everything Boy says. Boy knows that the broccoli looks funny that day (is broccoli supposed to glow?) but decides to eat it anyway. Later that night, Boy discovers that the severe indigestion was actually the imbuement of superhuman abilities like super-strength and super-speed and also he can fly! Neat. (Also, it made him at least three times more attractive, because it did.) The next day, while showing his friend his newfound abilities, an army of Evil Mutated Vegetable minions breaks into the school and the leader kidnaps Girl (because she’s the best, duh). Part Two: The Middle Bits This is where your MC will decide to solve whatever problem was presented to them at the beginning of the story. This is the largest part of your story, and a lot of important information happens here, so plan accordingly. In this section, your characters will be more fully revealed, they’ll have trying moments that teach them valuable lessons (probably), and you’ll develop an interesting story along the way. This section should also be building the story to its climax while keeping enough conflict to keep this part of the story interesting. Example: Boy has a huge decision to make. Will he leave the safety of his ordinary life behind to save the girl of his dreams? Yes. Yes, he will. He places his parents in a sleep-stasis, before heading out with Bob (who makes some funny remarks) and Steve. By the context clues left at the scene, namely an address, the boys know they will be traveling to Austria. Together they travel the Oceans by giant turtle (because speaking to animals is yet another one of Boy’s abilities), and they traverse the Alps (all 1,200kms of mountain) they finally end up in up in Vienna, Austria. They find that the inhabitants of Vienna are under the mind control of the Evil Mutated Vegetable Minions, who try to capture you all on sight. During an intense battle, Bob is captured. Now Boy is really determined to find the Evil Mutated Vegetable Warlord’s hideout and save both his to-be girlfriend and his friendly comic relief. Upon finding the lair, both Boy and Steve fall into a trap!. They are imprisoned in the Warlord’s lair. Part Three: The Ending This is what your entire story has been leading up to -- the climax. Your climax should be exciting! It’s the big reveal, or the final battle, or the most important piece of the plotline. This is also where you’ll be tying up loose ends and letting the reader know how the story ends. Example: As it turns out, the bars on the imprisonment are made from anti-superhuman-ability materials, and Boy can’t break his way out. Luckily for Boy, Steve can pick a lock as well as the next guy (if the next guy were a locksmith). Once freed, Boy and Steve try to defeat the Warlord and his Minions An epic battle occurred, in which there were many times that the both sides gained the advantage and even a moment where it looked like the bad guys would inevitably win. In a most epic and trying moment, Bob is finally able to defeat the evil army with the power of fruits! As it turned out, Evil Mutated Vegetables’ greatest weakness was perfectly ripened fruits. And luckily for the protagonists, a fruit vendor wheeled his cart into the lair. Boy and Steve defeat the Warlord and his Minions before setting Girl and Bob free. Bob says funny things. Girl falls in love with Boy, and they live happily ever after and Boy continuously saves Girl from various antagonists until the end of their days. The End Step Three: Storyboard Time Next, I like to make a storyboard, where I can pile all those plot points in chronological order and fill in the blanks. This also allows me to add any and all other ideas I have for the story (subplot points, random quotes, and other ideas) into the story on some sort of timeline. Perhaps you’ll want to throw in some sort of plot twist or have finally figured out one of Bob’s extremely funny jokes. There are a ton of different ways you could storyboard. You can use the old thumb tack to wall (or cork board) trick. Take index cards with all of your plot points and ideas and stick them to something (sticky notes work, too, but be careful that the adhesive doesn’t wear out before you’ve finished). This way you can freely rearrange the storyline at will. There are also programs that allow you to move ideas around freely like Microsoft OneNote, Google Keep, and Zim. I personally enjoy storyboarding on Google Keep because it’s simple, allows me to move those notes around, pin the ones I want to keep in place and save images and links from the web when I get into the ever-important research phase. Whatever you choose, if you’re planning on using a physical approach (like a cork board), I suggest taking a picture or copying it onto into a program or document for backup purposes. Part Four: The Nitty Gritty Now that you know where your story’s going, there are several main concepts that you're going to have to figure out. Characterization: This is where you’ll delve into the who and the what of your characters. There are highly complex methods and more simplistic methods on mapping out your characters. I made a list of characterization ideas +here, but it’s pretty extensive and grueling. @Shadokat678 left a video link in the comments with a much more concise character mapping guide, and @MuggleMaybe left a list of HP-verse character-related questions as well! World-building: If you’re writing an alternate earth or in a different dimension, it’s a good idea to establish the workings of your world. Even if you’re not, it’s still a good idea to know what’s going on in the world that may affect the characters in the plot. For example, you may want to establish types of government or the current economy (especially in the location(s) that the story is taking place). @TidalDragon wrote a magnificent guide to world building +here Establishing a System for Everything ‘Superhuman’: ( Or anything else that the reader isn’t familiar with.) If you’re using Superhuman abilities, make sure to include why, and how they work, and what their limitations are. The same goes for magic. Fun things to include are if and how those things evolve over time and what the cost is for using or learning them. For more specific information on writing magical abilities, check out Sanderson’s Laws of Magic +here, which I’ve found insightful. Also, things like unfamiliar races and creatures (Orcs, Halflings, Bugbears, Gods, etc.) should be explained somewhat for your reader. Therefore, it’s a good idea to establish those things for yourself first. What can they do? What do they look like? Where do they live? Etc. Are there unfamiliar plants in your story? What about substances? Anything that the reader would feel unfamiliar with, or something you’ve created from nothing, should be fully understood by you, the writer, so that it may be understood by the reader. Step Five: The Research There are probably going to be some aspects of your story you’d like to research more. In the case of the example I used during the plotting phase, I might want to research the Alps or Austria. Maybe I’d like to research sea turtles and their migration. Extensive understanding of what your writing will translate to your reader, making your story feel more realistic and believable. Make sure you have a solid understanding of what you’ll be writing about. This is also where I find that using the storyboard-able programs are helpful for storing and organizing information. This is where some of you may think is a good time to stop and start writing. Or maybe you would stop long before now and get to the writing. I tend to take things a bit further and expand my characterizations and plot points further, just so I know where I’m going. Then, I get even crazier. Sep Six: Chapter Outlines This is where I break apart my story into chapters and extensively outline each chapter accordingly. I didn’t do this initially, but now that I’ve started, I can’t stop. This ensures that I always know what’s happening in my story and is probably the greatest contributing factor in eliminating writer’s block (for me). Conclusion: That’s a ton of work to do, but it’s how I like to plan for my story. This is not going to work for everyone, and you should definitely plan whatever ways work best for you. Feel free to share different ways that YOU like to plan, if at all.
  3. dreamgazer220

    On Haunting Shadows

    Hey, guys! So if you hop on over to my author's page at any time in the near future, you're going to notice one change. Haunting Shadows, my story about a girl struggling to get over the death of her best friend, has been deleted from the archives. It's not with a light heart that I made this decision, and that's why you're hearing from me now, in this post. I do know it's the right move, though, and I just wanted to take a minute and talk to you guys about it. This story has been through a journey. It started off when I was sixteen and writing fanfiction for the first time. On HPFF, it was under the name Sweetest Goodbye, probably circa 2005-2006, and I really, really hope none of you guys remember because that version of this story was awful. Somehow, though, I managed to get over 200 reviews, and a lot of people loved it. But then I went to college, decided I didn't "need to write fanfiction anymore" and deleted everything on my author's page, including Sweetest Goodbye -- which, completed, totaled about 29 chapters. Around 2015, I decided to come back to what I considered my flagship story, and fanfiction in general, and began a re-write of the story, now called Haunting Shadows with much better characters, storylines, and overall mystery. And it got a lot of amazing feedback. And then we all know what happened with HPFF, and when the HPFT archives were born, I immediately transferred it over, not changing a thing and still overwhelmed by the response I got. All positive. Still overwhelmed by the fact that it won awards, won featured stories, and so many people seemed to love it and root for Cate, and leave me with long, amazing, thoughtful reviews (all of which I've saved, of course). Now it's 2018, and I'm in a different place (obviously) than when I first started -- emotionally, mentally, and creatively. My writing has improved leaps and bounds, largely in part because of you guys. But now, every time I open my Scrivener doc, I get so overwhelmed with what to do with the second half of the story and I get stressed with wanting to re-write the beginning of it to show the changes in my writing. And frankly, it's just not fun. So that's why, after one massive spring cleaning of my author's page, and this other, quieter spring cleaning, I've decided to delete it from the archives -- at least, for now. But I'm writing this post because I wanted to take a moment to say thank you. Thank you to all of you who have stuck by this story for so long, who have rooted for Cate, who have wanted to strangle Rob (but didn't) and Tommy alike. I want to especially thank @victoria_anne and @WindingArrow because without them, this story would've never reached 14 chapters in the first place and I would've given up on it a long time ago. And I don't think I'm giving up wholeheartedly yet. I might decide to re-vamp and re-boot it in the future, but just... better. Anyway. I'm still going to keep writing, so you don't have to worry about that! I just posted a Bellarke one-shot and I have a James II/OC fic in the works (hopefully). So this definitely isn't the last of me, by a long shot. It's just the end of HS, at least for now. But seriously. Thank you. And I love you guys.
  4. Elena

    Life is crazy...

    I'm back at work, the family has been sick for the last month and life is just CRAZY!!! I've just started to transfer my reviews from HPFF, but realised I haven't transferred over all my stories yet - or chapters. I just started writing fanfiction again for a SAYS reunion exchange fic...I have NO IDEA where that's heading. And there isn't enough coffee or time to get through all that needs to be done. I haven't baby spammed in a while for my Slytherin's so that will be next. If someone could Accio a few more hours into my days, that would be awesome. Oh...I've been binge watching some TV shows on Netflix. Anyone else watched The Rain or Salvation?
  5. dreamgazer220

    The Say Goodbye Challenge: RESULTS!

    And the results are in! So if you’ve been hanging out on the forums at all for the last few months, you may have noticed that I hosted my very first challenge here at HPFT, called the “Say Goodbye Challenge”, and I’m here today to present the results! In case you’re not familiar with the challenge, here’s a quick recap of the details: The challenge: In less than 5,000 words, I want you to write me a one-shot where your main character has to say goodbye. It doesn't necessarily have to be to a person; it can be a special place or a significant object from their lives as well. It can be a permanent goodbye or a temporary goodbye; the choice is yours. The point of this challenge is to express the character's emotions, and show the significance of the thing or person they're saying goodbye to; I want you to really make me feel for the character. Show me rather than tell me; be creative! I didn’t think I would get many entries at all, so it’s an understatement to say that I was blown away by the 14 entries I received. And then I started to read all of the entries, and I knew that grading was going to be really, really difficult; it wasn’t just the quantity of the entries that shocked me, but also the quality of them -- although I suppose that shouldn’t have been as much of a surprise, given how talented everyone here is. For grading, I had a total of 5 categories: interpretation of the challenge, plot, characterization, description/dialogue, and emotional impact. The entries with the highest scores had the highest emotional impact and the best take on the prompt. Complete List of Entries: May We Meet Again by clairevergreen (clevernotbrilliant) Burdens (M) by BlackPixie Shattering, Dying, Healing (M) by Felpata_Lupin Don't Know How to Say Good-bye by StarFeather Good-bye, Ron by StarFeather Farewell Thoughts by DanyFire Pandora's Secret by Phoenix Potioneer Percy by Pixileanin Then Time Stood Still (M) by Levana Pedestal by sapphicsunrise a caged soul (M) by justawillowtree Clippings (M) by pookha Goodbye, Jus by Felpata_Lupin Live and Be Well (M) by Pen2Paper So without further ado, please join me in congratulating the following authors! In 3rd Place: a caged soul (M) by @just.a.willow.tree What You Win: an additional prize review of your choice and a favorite story In 2nd Place: Percy by @Pixileanin What You Win: 3 additional prize reviews on stories of your choice, and favorite story And the winner of The Say Goodbye Challenge is... In 1st Place: Then Time Stood Still (M) by @Levana What You Win: 5 additional prize reviews on stories of your choice, a favorite story, and a picspam representing your story And because I had so many amazing entries, it was so difficult to narrow it down to just three places. These were the other two pieces that stood out to me the most: Honorable Mentions: Shattering, Dying, Healing (M) by @Felpata_Lupin Clippings (M) by @pookha If you’d like to keep your prize graphics, don’t forget to re-host and credit @just.a.willow.tree! And that’s a wrap! Congratulations to all the winners! Please PM me with the stories you would like your prize reviews on, and @Levana, message me if you have any specific images you’d like to include in your picspam. Thank you to everyone for making my first challenge such a roaring success -- and if you’re looking for a good angsty fic to read, please read any of these stories mentioned in this entry. I can’t recommend them strongly enough. Until next time,
  6. Elena

    Happy Christmas

    Well, I failed Nano again So that means I am on par with every other year!! Life simply got me with having a new baby with a toddler at home. I have been binge watching Netflix though while I nurse Jakob. I have caught up to date with Suits, and O.M.G! I WANT TO BE DONNA!!! I think her character is simply awesome. It's not just her quirky lines, but there is so much more to Donna than meets the eye. Just when you think you have her sussed, she surprises you. Apart from that, writing has been at a minimum as I prepare for Christmas. I swear, I need to spoil my kids less. They have everything. It makes my shopping life hell. I did a lot of guessing and spending this year, so fingers crossed, I have happy kids for Christmas. I may not get a chance to get back till after Christmas, so I wish you all a safe holiday, regardless of what you celebrate or don't celebrate. Just make sure you all stay happy and safe xoxo
  7. beyond the rain

    My First Time (writing original fiction)

    Hey guys, it's negative nancy, here with some good news (seriously, where is this positivity coming from?) For my final year i was meant to be writing a script. I'd heard lots of things from past students on what to do and what not to do, and in the end I had vague aspirations that lead to giving up on my degree and marrying into money. But I trudged on, creating an extremely political scary world with some fairly eccentric characters thrown in. There was just one problem: I hated it. I hated my plot, I hated my characters, and I hated that it felt like there was no one on my team - because no one understood it. So I scrapped it! Now instead I'm writing a piece about age, sexuality, and family secrets...and it's not so daunting. I always saw original fiction as some strange next level writing - because with FF for me it was just playing. I touched on serious topics like dementia, anxiety, and adultery - but the characters were ready made. I had my own spin on a few, but the challenge was to present them in character. In original fiction, the rules are yours...which should be liberating - but to me it wasn't. I felt like I had to create an exciting new world because so many had already been created, wizarding worlds, Narnia, Gallifrey - and I thought by making it 'normal' I'd be boring. I thought that if my play wasn't challenging then I was writing it wrong. I don't think I'm that creative, most ideas never make it out of my brain and onto paper because I don't have the determination to complete it - and I was trying to defend a world and a setting more than an actual plot. It was like if JKR had created the wizarding world, and just gone: here you go, have fun. Rather than giving us the chosen one, or Voldemort and his death eaters - and all these families that we love, imagine if Rowling had just given us the world. It's still magical and exciting, but it isn't enough. My piece seemed half baked. I was trying so hard to remould it, and make it what other people wanted, until I realised I wasn't enjoying myself anymore. Which naturally meant it wouldn't be my best work. The best thing I ever wrote was a piece called In the Mourning, a short story about Harry and Professor McGonagall, and if Harry had visited his parents grave before the scene in deathly hallows. Or Storge, my one shot about Ariana Dumbledore and her death. The reason I think that they're probably my best, is because I loved them. I planned them out from start to finish, and put so much love and care into them...which is why I like them anyway. With my initial script it was just like, I need to get this done! It was about pleasing others, and not myself. I think that original fiction is very similar to FF really, and I'm not sure why I had it placed on this metaphoric pedestal for so many years. I don't think I could write a book myself, but from what I've written so far - I had to enjoy what I was writing. I had to be comfortable with my idea. I want it to be entertaining, and insightful. I want to make people laugh, and cry, I want them to be shocked, maybe even uncomfortable - but I want them to feel. Which I think is what every writer wants, original or not. Maybe my initial experience is completely different to other people's, but this is my first time writing original fiction, and my first time writing a play! Once I liked what I had the words kept flowing...though maybe that was because it was 2am, and now I'm up to 600 words! I know I keep going on about it and you're probably getting sick of it, but this really is a huge milestone for me. Obviously I'm far from done...in fact, I've come up with a list! This is the most basic list, that I'll have to edit as I go along, but I thought you might like to see in case I'm missing something obvious, or if you'd just like to take a gander! OF List: fully flesh out characters: 1/6 understand plot have a timeline (halfway there) know the beginning know the middle know the end come up with a title create a summary/blurb pitch it to other people have set/costume/props in mind anyway, I think I've bored you all to death by now - and I have a scene to finish!
  8. Elena

    Stalled, Christmas, Birthdays and more...

    Ok, so - I have written 1,948 words. Yes, I am WAY behind It's OK, I will catch up. But, has anyone noticed that Christmas is coming up?? I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!! Yes, I have been Christmas shopping and not writing. To be fair though, I have 5 babies to shop for. Even though my eldest is 14 and into Anime and Pokemon, I'm still looking at HP stuff to buy. Which also reminds me. A friend's son is turning 11 this year, so he is getting a HP birthday. I'm going to crochet something small up for him and post it from "Mrs Weasley" The last few days I've spent moving my sites to a new hosting server that is more economical and that reminded me to update here. Here are a few lines from what I have written though
  9. Elena

    Get ready. Get Set. And.........

    So, I lied in 2007, I wrote New Beginnings (MA) and wrote 33,560 words. This is the most I have written, not the 28,297 from the year before. I figured this out as I updated the NaNoWriMo site of my previous attempts and word counts. I'm missing documents from 2009 - 2010 or I may not have labelled them as "nano" and can't remember what they were In any case, as I type this, there are 52 minutes to go till NaNo starts here in Sydney, Australia. I decided to continue writing my original piece. I've no real idea where to start - I just plan on writing. I added my word count widget to my profile picture, so this will show my progress. Good luck for those doing NaNoWriMo 2017
  10. Elena

    NaNoWriMo 2017

    The countdown to NaNoWriMo is on again. I participate EVERY year and I fail every year. I expect no different this year. Why do I do it? Because I've been working on my original fiction since 2009 and have yet to complete my first draft. It's a historical fiction based on a true timeline of events in Australia. As such, its also dealing with real towns and the longer I fail at writing, the more "life" goes on and towns change. But, I have spent over $2000 of my own money in research for this, so I can never give up - nor do I want to. Life has also played a massive part in the "no writing" aspect. I work full time and have just recently had baby #5. Motherhood kinda has to be a priority I came close to finishing NaNo once - my first year in 2006, with Draco and Ginny Pudding (MA), it sits at 28,297 words and I have yet to move all of it here to HPFT. The title was inspired by the HPFF Cliche Cafe, part of the NaNo fun on the forums of the time. It's the most I have written for NaNo - My least being 450 words last year Hopefully this year I will succeed, I just have no idea if I'll try and write my OF, start another, or write FF. Below in an excerpt from my original fiction - A first ever peek. I've never posted it publicly before. I have 3 more days to decide...I'll keep you updated.
  11. dreamgazer220

    Advice on Two Birds, One Stone

    Hey, guys! Welcome to my blog For those who don't know me, my name is Jill, and I love rare pairs, the next generation, and The 100 (where I actually ship the main pairing???). I'm also addicted to coffee, work with kid's books for a living, and spend way too much time procrastinating and then wondering why my WIPs never get finished. But enough about me. Let's get onto the point of this entry. If you've visited my author's page at all, you might be familiar with my story Two Birds, One Stone (M) which was my first attempt at a Next Gen novel(la). I originally wrote it for a summer holiday challenge back at The Old Place, but it's since taken a life of it's own and has mostly been a really fun, light story for me to write -- which is different than the angst and tragedy I normally write. The story, is in short, a fake dating story between James II and my OC, Hannah Thomas-Finnigan. The two decide to date each other to get revenge on Hannah's cheating ex-boyfriend and to prove to the world/media/Hannah's best friend that James is capable of a serious relationship. Hannah's originally less than thrilled about the idea, but eventually warms up and over the course of the story, becomes a bit more comfortable with the idea. It's going to be hard to talk about this without giving away the ending, but I'm going to try. I originally wrote this (or started to write it) with the idea in mind that I was tired of fake dating turned real love, and I wanted to break away from that cliche. The ending is, well, less than happy, but I have a sequel in mind to make things right again. I also came up with the ending to go for shock value -- it doesn't end in the way you expect it to. So here's my dilemma and reason for this post: I don't know if I want to keep that storyline. I've written about 5 chapters now, and writing chapter 6, I feel like the story just kind of goes around in circles. People reacting to James and Hannah (affectionately referred to as Jannah in the story)'s relationship, James trying to prove to Hannah that yes, this is a good idea and it benefits both of them, and Hannah getting in way over her head. I've also struggled with the ending a lot -- I'm not sure if it really fits my characters and the story, even though they're human and everyone makes mistakes. Also, for the life of me, why can't I just write a happy fluffy story, dammit! I'm torn between seeing this through to the end (I have commitment problems with writing, so this is already a struggle) and taking it off the archives so that I can re-write the entire thing and making it more of a summer romance/coming of age story still with the basic premise. My writing has also improved a lot since I first wrote it in August of last year, and I want to re-write the first few chapters to reflect that. I'm just worried that if I take it off, I'm not going to finish it -- and I love this story as a whole and the characters, so I want to write it. I also have so many other projects going on in my brain right now, and of course, Haunting Shadows (I started writing chapter 12, I promise!), and my brain doesn't know how to multi-task well. So I'm asking for your opinions. Even if you've only read the story a little or haven't at all, I'm curious to what you would do in my shoes because this has been an issue for a while now. Any and all advice would be welcome
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