Thursday, April 2, 2009

TLYDF Style Series

1. Preparation          |          2. Influence          |          3. Process          |          4. Product

'Give me books, fruit, French wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors, played by somebody I do not know.'
- John Keats

As writers we are influenced by a number of factors before we even sit down to start our stories. These influences guide us both consciously and subconsciously as a force that pulls us through the story as we write.

While often times we think of influences as a specific writer, all of us here are influenced by Twilight, these influences actually come in many forms. Our interests and our needs will affect our decision about choosing a particular topic. Values and beliefs influence our work and we are likely to choose examples and evidence that reflect our particular perspective. We also affect the way we relate to our readers -- whether we adopt a friendly tone, one of suspense or angst.

Our knowledge will also influence our work. When we know a great deal about a topic, we might find it easier to locate appropriate evidence and our work flows easily from our mind to laptop. In contrast; when we know relatively little about a topic we need to spend much more time searching for, evaluating, and critically reading sources.

Opportunities in our lives also expand the possibilities for a us. Among many other possibilities, opportunities include our relationships with our betas and other writers, readers and friends. Opportunities to work together and to try new things.

For this installment of the TLYDF style series I asked our group of writers a series of questions about their influences broken down into these different factors. All authors glean influence from different sources. We have different backgrounds and life experiences that affect everything we do. When I interviewed these writers I was amazed at the bredth and depth of their lives. This is truly a wonderful group of women who are in touch with why they write, how they write and how they are influenced.


'If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot...reading is the creative center of a writer's cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.'

Steven King

We all have lives outside of writing fanfiction. In our "real life", as some like to call it, we have hobbies and interests that ultimately effect everything we do. I enjoy reading and read both non-fiction and fiction. My home is filled with books. I never let them go. There are books filling my office and my bedroom, our basement and our living room. There are bookshelves everywhere. Besides that, I love music. I have a collection of vinyl that has shaped me since my earliest memory. I adore beautifully written lyrics and the sound of the guitar.

But it's more than just the arts. I love linguistics, college basketball and organic gardening, animals and cooking. All of these things ultimately influence my writing.


The language aspect of anything is a passion for me. I've been obsessed with languages since I was a little girl. I would check out library books in other languages and pretend I could read them. French language and culture is a minor focus in Lunière. m The title of the story is a play on two French words, and the title of the first chapter is the title of one of my favorite plays. The Alice in my fic is, of course, a French student. My Jasper has a rather existentialist slant, and I've used several quotes from my favorite books and authors, all in French. I'm sure if I knew another language as well as I do French, I would be working that into my fics as well.
- SiDEADde

Music in particular impacts my writing. I go through moods where I'll listen to one genre of music. And somehow that genre will completely affect what I write and how I write it. I was in a 90's Industrial and Riotgrrl -feminist punk phase a couple weeks back, listening to some darker selections. And I came up with a darker themed story for fanfiction solely due to that playlist. Music creates scenarios and ideas in my head that wouldn't pop in there otherwise. Thanks Nine inch Nails and Bikini Kill!lol
- Halo Jones

My love of words directly impacts my writing, because it is what impels me to write. I'd like to say that my joy in shopping also helps my writing, because then maybe it would keep my husband from frowning when my next pair of shoes arrives from but it probably doesn't. - Limona

Reading, gaming, sewing, quilting, baking, music.
As far as a passion... the biggest one I have/had was for pregnancy and childbirth. I know. Surprise, surprise. But it really was a passion that began when I was a teen. Though, that really that all goes more to the knowledge aspect.
I'm strongly influenced by things that I read and music. Strangely, with music, it isn't always the words, but the feeling that the song evokes that inspire me.
- GinnyW


'Writing is not a job description. A great deal of it is luck. Don't do it if you are not a gambler because a lot of people devote many years of their lives to it (for little reward). I think people become writers because they are compulsive wordsmiths.'

-Margaret Atwood

Needs and interests are different and yet influence us in much the same way. We are parents and daughters, students and teachers. Some of us live with our families or live alone. My responsibilities are to my husband, my children, my mother and my job. All of these things effect me. They shape who I am.

I am typing this at eleven at night because I had car pool and papers to grade. I had to make dinner and walk the dog.

It would be great to hole up inside of a room all alone and write but what experience would I pull from? Would I be able to write about the pains of loss or the joys of true love?


I am married and have three English Pointers who are basically my spawn, but cheaper. My family/friends social network is HUMONGOUS and beyond needy. My father likes daily calls and my sister is ridiculously flaky and fabulous. My three brothers are typical brothers. My mother is loved and the bane of my existence -- so basically its typical. My extended family goes on FOR DAYS, but they all attribute to my creativity. More than half of what I've written come from them and experiences we have shared in. Nothing is so Mary Sue that people we know in real life could pin point one situation, but all the emotions I write about are direct results of the life I've lived with the people beside me. I can't imagine anything that I've experienced has done anything to hinder me now. It PROPELS me and really, it keeps me grounded. Actually, wait I can think of two hindrances: the need of sleep and 24 hour days.
- Smellyia

Writing is too important for it ever to be an "in addition to" for me. All the other stuff is "in addition to." Perhaps it sounds horrible, but even motherhood vies with writing for "most fundamental to my self-description." My son will eventually grow up, leave home and have his own life. I'll still be writing. I won't stop being his mother, of course (once a parent, always a parent), but writing is what I've done longer than anything else -- and it's what I'll continue to do until they plant me in the ground. In fact, were I ever to reach a point of such decrepitude that I could no longer write, just take me out and shoot me like a used-up horse. *grin* (That came out more morbid than I meant it ... )
- Minisinoo

I'm lucky to be a stay at home mother, but I am a mother, first and foremost. Having the experience of being a mother is definitely a boon to my writing when I need to understand maternal instinct or write realistic dialogue for a child, among other things. It's definitely a hindance in that it's very difficult to concentrate and write when children are around. No matter what they might be occupied with, they inevitably sense my need for quiet and concentrate and descend immediately to demand my undivided attention. The only person that obstructs my writing time more is my husband - he's worse than the children when it comes to needing attention.
- Avalonia

I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a friend and a sister and a sister-in-law and a daughter and a daughter-in-law. i am a nursing student and i am a volunteer at my kid's school. i am jandco's other half.
i play many roles. fanfic writers tends to take a backburner to those roles, but not always.
i think you can always tell when my life is shit or busy because my updates are rushed and have a mistake or two.
- Withthevampsofcourse

Values and Beliefs

The writer's only responsibility is to his art. He will be completely ruthless if he is a good one... If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the Ode on a Grecian Urn is worth any number of old ladies.'

- William Faulkner

What we believe in influences us. Whether it's integrity, organic gardening or some higher power what are values are shape the way we write.

I believe in the power of the written word, that the way words take shape and form influence others. It is what I was taught and what I teach and it obviously affects how I write. In my story, everyone is being manipulated. The characters are manipulating each other through dialogue and I am manipulating the readers with the language I choose. It is my believe that language effects emotions and this belief shapes the way I write.


In the few fics that I have written, I do think that I project a bit on my main character. I have written one fic where the characters weren't very much like me and it was very liberating. I'm sure as I expand and do more writing I'll branch out and have my characters doings things I would never do.
I feel that these things impact my writing the most. I rambled a bit on my LJ the other day about my resistance to writing the HEA in Twilight fanfic. After a little comment dialoging with another writer, I came to the conclusion that there wasn't enough "realism" for me in the Saga. Ironic, because it -is- a vampire story and therefore is nowhere near real. I am still working on the bitter BD aftertaste, and getting petty revenge against the characters out of my system. ;)
- SiDEADde

I definitely write characters that are different from myself. What I do try very hard to do is try to put a bit of realism into these characters. So even if I am writing about Bella agreeing to explore swinging, I try to portray her as an everyday woman. She has fears, she has visceral reactions that may resemble what a normal woman would feel in that situation. It isn't all about sexy times and instant connections that resolve themselves. There is guilt, regret and conflict. I would not engage in the same behaviors I write about in real life, but I like to write about how I think someone may behave under those circumstances.
- Gustariana

My characters have integrity, yes. All of my characters have integrity, and there is a reason behind all of their actions. My characters are not frivolous, not insipid, rarely thoughtless... I sound like such a narcissist. but really my characters reflect the values I was raised to strive for. Be good and smart. The end.
I'm cynical. Trying to a story about hope (sanctuary) or rescue (earthquake) or timeless love (FItE) is an attempt to push myself and find that positivity inside myself. I try not to take the easy way out. i may be writing characters who embody the values i strive for, but being a good person in a tough situation makes for an interesting story.
- Jfly

Sure. I think my ideas on human nature and love definitely filter how I tell an all-human Twilight story, because now you gotta infuse all the Twilight kids with human qualities. For instance, a human Edward pulling a New Moon break up, can't spend the year crying in an empty room in South America all year while tracking Victoria. Most likely he'll have family ties that don't give him the freedom to run off, he'll have to support himself, he'll have to basically "deal" like other humans do. But at the same time, he'll "deal" in a very dysfunctional manner -- cause that gothy romantic theme won't let our hero and heroine move on in life in any sort of psychologically healthy So, yeah, I infuse my stories often with my own views of life, especially in AH-AU fics, with the Twilight themes taken into consideration.

Our values are always mirrored in our writing, and if a writer thinks they aren't, she's kidding herself. That said, HOW they're mirrored may not always be apparent, and furthermore, we HAVE to be able to write characters who are different from ourselves -- including characters who hold different values -- or we're not much in the way of writers. Also, depending on the nature of the story, the impact of our values on the storyline may be of greater or lesser importance, but they're always there. Not everything we write will be political or social commentary, but our choices about the very direction of our plots still reflect our values and beliefs, whether or not we realize it.
Among an author's most important tools is not just an ability with language, but the ability to empathize -- to see the world through others' eyes and reflect that accurately in fiction. That includes reflecting attitudes with which we don't agree, or even find abhorrent -- and not making the character into a straw man for us to bludgeon. That's pedantic preaching -- not fiction writing. If, for instance, our story involves two characters with opposing views on abortion, we may have a personal opinion on abortion ourselves (probably do) -- and our opinion may even be obvious when the story is viewed as a whole -- but it's our job as good writers to accurately reflect the views of the opposition in terms they would choose ... not terms we'd foist upon them. For instance, in the abortion debate, BOTH sides often claim the term "pro-life" and claim the other side is not ... but they mean very different things by "pro-life" and the author writing about it must understand both perspectives on their terms. Too often people equate "understand" with "agree," but they aren't equivalent. The good writer knows this (so does the good historian, btw).
- Minisinoo

If i didn't believe in love, i couldn't write about it. if i didn't believe sex can be both a damaging and simultaneously transcedant experience, i wouldn't write it the way i do. yes, i'll say it. i sure can write sex. but there's a reason. i don't write fucking. one of my earliest reviews for that one-shot said something like "you understand that the way to seduce a woman is through the mind." it's not a matter of insert point A into slot B; repeat. and i get that writing sex is hard. it really is.
- Withthevampsofcourse


'You who write, choose a subject suited to your abilities and think long and hard on what your powers are equal to and what they are unable to perform.'

- Horace

There is comfort in what we know. By nature, we are best off writing in our comfort zone. It is why former doctors write the best medical novel and lawyers the best law. But there is also a lot of research that a writer can do for their work. I am starting a new story and my character needs to carry a gun. I, being the peace loving hippie that I am, had no clue what kind of gun to give her so I had to research it.

Hopefully no one out there is looking at my google searches.


I think it's foolish for writers to attempt something we haven't either experienced ourselves or researched sufficiently because -- invariably -- one of our readers WILL know ... and they'll probably tell us exactly where we screwed up. *grin* There is -- unfortunately -- a "cult of laziness" among at least some fanfic authors. "It's just fanfic (don't take it so seriously)," or "It's just fanfic (I'm doing it for fun, don't bother me with the facts)." Neither is an excuse. Writers who don't want to look things up should write only what they don't HAVE to look up. ;> I can be a bit ... emphatic on that score. There are a few stylistic exceptions to this. Comedy may use deliberate error or exaggeration, allegory is often intended to be less factual than parallel to something else, and some heavily stylized forms are not intended to be factual so much as emotive and visual [like, say, film noir or Frank Miller's "Sin City" and "300"]. But this applies to a relatively small percentage of stories in fanfic OR profic -- and is not usually the reason for writer error in fanfic (or profic). ;>
In general? If you don't know how to fly fish and don't want to look it up? Don't make your character an avid fly-fisherman just because you think it sounds cool. I think the WEIRDEST thing I ever had to look up for a story was the going rate for tea-room trade in New York's Alphabet City in the early '90s. (c. $50) *snerk* Another weird one involved the glass making process in the pre-Roman ancient world and the first appearance of clear glass (Syrian, 400s BCE).
- Minisinoo

I think I write more about stuff that matters to me than stuff I am comfortably familiar with. I tend to do a lot of research. before I wrote FItE, i formulated an idea about William Blake's Songs of Innocence and of Experience. Likewise, Sanctuary came about from a character of Robert Browning's married to the strange psyche in Eliot's Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock. that's how I work. i start with SOMETHING, and i grow a story from the idea or feeling i get from the SOMETHING.
- Jfly

Both. Write what you know... it's one of the first pieces of advice that a writer hears. But that doesn't mean that you can't learn the information. It really bothers me, though, when someone decides to write about a topic without learning something about it first.
It's far more difficult for a teenager to write about the trials of a 35 year old single mother. However, just because it's difficult, doesn't mean that it's impossible.
- GinnyW

I think for a very long time I tended to stick to what I knew; my characters from story to story would have common interests, jobs, and hobbies. I'm trying to get away from that a little bit now. I do think it's important to write what you know - but I also think it's important to continually expand what you know. That's where research is key.
- Avalonia

I started off only trying to write what I know. If I don't know, I at least research to the best of my ability. It's the only responsible thing to do. I think initially, topics that I was comfortable in my knowledge with, were what I tended toward, but I am a restless person and crave knowledge. I just told somebody today that I am a PUSHER. I hate complacency because I feel like I lose out on possibility. So I push and right now, that means venturing into uncharted waters.
Granted, that isn't to say that my own education and mindset doesn't bleed into story-telling. It's a part of my makeup and I can't ignore that -- so my life and education is at the heart of a lot of what I do. So you can look at it like a mix of writing what I know and learning so that I can know about something new to wax eloquent/idiotic on.
- Smellyia


'If you caricature friends in your first novel they will be upset, but if you don't they will feel betrayed.'

Mordecai Richler

We all have a unique set of opportunities. We have libraries and google, we have our wonderful betas and our best friends. Some of us are influenced by our readers and our reviews.

These things shape our writing like anything else. They become a part of our make up.


It is a rare author who doesn't write for the audience at least a little bit. If a writer only writes for herself, and not for anyone else, why would she bother publishing her work? There is a difference, though, between writing for an audience and writing in response to the audience. Fan fiction provides a unique opportunity to find out what people think of your story chapter by chapter as you write it. The feedback is wonderful, but as I work on my WIP, I always have to remind myself that the readers don't know the whole story. I am the one with the outline. I've found it works best when I write according to my own ideas and plans as opposed to taking the sometimes excellent suggestions of my reviewers.
When I am stuck, though, I reach out to my friends. I don't necessarily take their advice (though I probably should, haha); it's more the act of walking through my plot issues with a friendly ear or two.
- Limona

I have tried once or twice to write on a theme- for a challenge or something. I actually WANT to be prompted to write something specific that isn't inside my head just to see if I can do it. I've written canon characters (at least I think they are canon), and I have written original characters. i love the challenge of tryiing to match my interpretation of a personality to someone else's. it makes writing more interesting when i have to work for it. but once i get a plot worked out, i do not change it based on reader comments or suggestions. i actually get "reviews" asking me to let my characters get together. those bug me. i feel insulted that the reader thinks i don't have a roadmap in place. because i do. i always do.
the plot is the journey from point A to point Z, and a lot of things happen along the way. if i am unsure of the efficacy, plausibility, or wisdom of any of those smaller events, i will ask a chosen person or two for an opinion. always my beta's opinion carries the most weight.
- Jfly

A while back, I wrote a little article about this in my LJ called, "The (not necessarily pretty) Confessions of an Artist". To begin, I took a quote from the film "Heights" (which starred my homeboy, James Marsden): "Actors, painters, we're all the same. Superconscious about everyone else - the work. But you sleepwalk through your own life. You're not really noticing or interested in anyone." There is a disturbing truth to that.

But the question here seems to be more about external influences than opportunities -- what causes us to write X story instead of Y? I've already mentioned above a lot of things, including (especially) writing what we know, or what we learn (well). But there IS, also, audience reaction. If one is a "storyteller" as opposed to a "cathartic writer" (for what I mean, see HERE, then one will pay attention to what people seem to enjoy reading. This isn't to be confused with the author who demands, "If I don't get 50 reviews, I won't write the next chapter!" That, frankly, is juvenile. But only the most internal of authors pays no attention to audience reaction. Most of us, especially in fanfic -- which is highly interactive compared to pro-publishing -- do write in order to be READ. Yet there is a persistent notion in writing that if you "pander" to the audience you are somehow less of a writer -- a mere hack. That's false. You're just more storyteller, less cathartic writer. There are hacks, to be sure, but storytellers write to entertain ... and if nobody is reading our fiction, then we're not entertaining -- so what's the point?

I think the best writers are, really, a mix of both storyteller and cathartic writer. We have to be internally driven enough to write sometimes when the story grabs us ... even if we may know it won't be terribly popular. Lord knows, I was well aware "Beauty, Shining in Company" would drop like a stone in Twilight; a gen, no-Bella, slightly slashy story (even if it does feature Edward) in a fandom driven largely by het romance? Yeah, that was BOUND to be popular. *grin* But I wrote it because it demanded to be written. I wanted to. That was reason enough. Sometimes our best stories happen that way. But that sort of insular writing can also be negative. It can produce indulgent, badly edited navel-gazing. So writing "purely" for "the story" isn't always good, you know? Storytellers also have to maintain a balance. Writing to entertain, we can fall into doing things to please a fickle, demanding audience -- not necessarily what the STORY demands. The result lacks artistry or cohesion. But storytelling can also inspire us to care about story quality in plot, characterization and sheer editing, and it can inspire us to write stories that might actually Mean Something. Storytellers are entertainers, sure. But we're also teachers. ;> There's an old saying that if you want to know what actually happened, talk to a historian. But if you want to know a culture or society's values, talk to their storytellers. Being both, I can affirm that's absolutely true. ;>

Influence takes many different forms, and they're all good because all of it can shape your thoughts, whether it's positive in that you use the influence for ideas or negative in that you think "never, ever ever". the difference between influence and being influenced is how you use the ideas. if you let your insecurities or need for approval or whatever it is that's your voice start dictating the story as opposed to your original idea or your own original voice... then you've stepped into weird territory. and i get it; it's quite tough to stick to your guns once your story gets "noticed" by the fandom. it's a heady feeling, knowing that those five-thousand-some-odd alerts for your story squee when you update. but if you can manage to stay the course, you'll still come off as the original, genuine person people read when there were only 37 reviews.
I got cocky when my stories started gaining notoriety/popularity. i know that. but that was only evident in the author's notes and the twilighted forum. i never, ever, ever changed my stories because of the reviews. no.
you'll know the difference, too. you can tell if you're writing for yourself or not. and if you're can't... well. start rereading your chapters, and maybe turn off the review alerts.
- Withthevampsofcourse

I can't thank the group of women who interviewed for this piece enough. They are all wonderful writers and deserve to have all of their answers published in this blog but, alas, my word count is already high.

Yes, our influences permeate our existence from our writing to all other facets of life. All of these writers have influenced me and I am better for it.


  1. i mispelled a word. FML

    also... minisinoo is my hero for many reasons, but mostly because she used "homeboy" and applied it to spike.

  2. I just read this wonderful post and went back and found the first installment on Preparation. I am new to the blog, I just discovered it last week, and I check in every day to see what's new. These Style postings are GREAT education and inspiration for particularly a beginning/trying-to-be writer (like myself) and for all writers, really.

    I started reading Twilight fanfic a few months ago and am addicted. At first I thought it would be weird to see and hear these beloved characters be written by someone other than Stephenie, but truly there are some wonderfully talented writers out there with some really unique stories. With a lot of the REALLY good fanfics I often feel I could be reading a published novel and not something related to Twilight (aside from the character names).

    Discovering (or maybe I should say "devouring"--I think I read all 4 in a 2 week period!) the Twilight books brought back a love for reading I haven't felt (or made time for) since I was younger. Reading again plus reading interviews with Stephenie and hearing her personal story has inspired me to try writing an original story of my own. I have no idea what if anything will come of it, but I am determined to keep at it, if only as an exercise for myself to see if I can do it.

    Anyway, the point is, I am definitely researching and learning as I go and I loved this post/series because it is tremendously insightful and helpful to hear how others go about their own writing!

  3. Hello-wolvesnvamps here.

    Yet again, another top notch post. It's always a sheer delight to come on here.

  4. "What we believe in influences us."

    Organic gardening. Definitely.

    So far we've planted: peas, spinache, bok choy, mesclun mix, and tomatoes (in planters).

    And I want to write a farm one shot at some point. Our CSA farmer talks about the funniest shit...

  5. "minisinoo is my hero for many reasons, but mostly because she used 'homeboy' and applied it to spike."

    This made me laugh, although I need to correct one thing. James Marsters is Spike. James Marsden (my homeboy) is Cyclops. :-) (You are not, at all, the first person to confuse them. I see it all the time.)

    Anyway, the interview was fun.

  6. Oh I've had to clarify the Marsden/Marsters for many people over my Buffy obsessed life. I like Cyclops but I'll duel for Spike.

    Thanks for the article, Emibella. Was some great advice from some very talented people that I'm going to take to heart, particularly the bit about writing for yourself. I needed to be reminded of that.

  7. Hello,

    I really loved this. I know I said this in a comment on another post (possibly several), probably the first Style Series post, but I think it is so great that you invite so many different voices from the fandom to participate with TLYDF and with the Style Series.

    I could really relate to what Minisinoo said about influence. About how we have to find that balance between writing something that demands to be written, but also something that is entertaining.

    I also appreciate what Smellyia wrote about knowledge. We cannot always write what we know, because sometimes those fantastical plot lines need to be written. Anyone who writes AU or canon writes about vampires, yet (as far as I know) none of us has experience being a vampire. Therefore research is key. It shows that you CARE about what you write. You care enough to want to make your fanfiction story accurate and real.

    Beautifully done. Thank you for writing this Emibella and for all of you who contributed.



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