Thursday, June 20, 2002

It occurs to me that I've been doing a lot with style lately. I wrote 100 Days all in first person, present tense, limited POV (Tom's) because the story needed it plus someone told me it could be done and by now, y'all know that "you can't do that!" pretty much amount to fighting words for me.

Lines in the Sand, that was a direct inspiration from "Iolokus - I admit that I shamelessly stole the idea of alternating first person POVs from MustangSally and RivkaT. It worked so well for them, I wanted to give it a shot. I also structured this story very differently than anything else I'd written - the POVs were written in past and future. For instance, Janeway was in the here and now when she was the narrator, but Chakotay was taking a trip down memory lane. So every other scene was in the past. I do have to say, writing this story really messed with my head because I wasn't always sure where I was. It wasn't the easy flow that "100 Days" was, but I had to constantly check myself and ask, "Okay, what timeline are you in now?" I went days writing one POV and leaving the blanks in between where the other POV would go. It was almost like writing two different stories simultaneously and then hoping and praying that it would all hang together in the end.

Not That Kind was my first attempt (and so far only, until this Quark experiment showed up) at second person and that just demanded to be in second person POV because of the 'lecturing' style of the story. I did want Chakotay to feel horrible and well, the only way I could do that was in second person POV. But I also wanted a disinterested narrator, someone who could evaluate the situation coolly and not make any value judgements. So in that case, I think the narration worked pretty well.

Intimate Expression was my 'authorized' venture into what Liz and I call "pronoun hell." In this case, I wrote an entire story without using names - only pronouns. Since there were only two characters, that works perfectly, especially since there is one male and one female. But still, it's difficult to write and I was so tempted to use names because it can get confusing (as I did when I wrote one f/f slash piece - I didn't know who was doing or saying what).

New Orleans wasn't so much stylistic as much as it was moody. It was about mood, about the city of New Orleans being a character in the story as much as Sisko was. It was also my first attempt at an OC in the Trekiverse. To me, this story is the predecessor of two other equally moody DS9 stories, In His Own Words and All Things as well as Surfacing.

There are other stories that I think can be considered stylistic experiments, but these, imho, are the major milestones. They are the ones where I feel like I broke away from the constraints imposed on writing and the ones I remember as fond writing experiments because I felt like I was learning as I went and the characters revealed themselves to me slowly. I didn't necessarily know where I was going or what I was doing, but that was okay - these stories seemed to have pulled out their endings from the style imposed upon them.

I do admit that writing the same characters and the same style does bore me to an extent - I need something different to keep fanfic fresh and interesting. At the same time, I need to know that I'm changing as a writer, that I'm not the same writer I was back when I started in '97. I'm not sure, however, if my stylistic interpretations get in the way of the story or whether I'm completely distracting the reader. I'm sure there's a good, hardfast reason why you shouldn't write first person present tense, but I haven't seen a good one.

Style is so hard to do well and certain authors pull it off with panache. Kelly comes immediately to mind as one who succeeds as does Michele Masterson. Yvonne is another one who took on the difficult task of journal-style storytelling and actually made it work. Jenn wrote some of the most heart-stopping stylistic VOY fanfic out there. So when I grow up, I'd like to be any one of these talented ladies. But in the meantime, I'll just keep practicing.

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