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Joined Nov '09

"Books are the best of things, well used;
abused, among the worst."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

See that picture over there, my icon? I took that at a concert I went to and it's pretty much the most prized picture I've ever taken. I think I may have fangirl issues...

The Five Ws

When I was younger, I had an English teacher who told me to always read with five questions in mind: who, what, when, where, and why? I figured that those same five questions would be a pretty decent way of letting people know about me. So here goes...

Who: I won't be telling you my real name, but I will explain how I ended up with the name ThereAfter, which is admittedly rather strange. Up until I started posting on FanFiction.net, I had always thought up stories in my head, but never written them down. One such story centered around a girl whose powers were time based. Her strongest attack was called Hereafter and, though that story obviously never went anywhere, the name of that attack stuck with me. I liked it for whatever reason and decided that it would make a neat penname, which is why that's my name on FF. net. Sadly, that name was taken on FictionPress so I added a 't' and the name ThereAfter was born. As for why I capitalized the 'A', well, I just thought it would look better that way.

What: Who knows at this point? I've got a fantasy story in the works and that's what I'm currently dedicating myself to, but I've got the beginnings of two other stories as well. One is fantasy, the other good, old-fashioned, chick lit. We'll see what happens. For the moment, all my energy is going into one project only. Hopefully, I'll be able to begin posting soon.

When: This question could mean a hundred different things, but I'll explain when I found this site. As a freshmen, I was in love with the Maximum Ride series and there was a link to on the books' website. I was intrigued and decided to check it out, needless to say I stuck around. I hung around there for a long time without an account before finally deciding to set one up. But actually getting around to writing a story took ages. And then, when I grew bored of fanfiction, I hesitantly made my way to FP. I am so glad I did.

Where: Where do I do my best writing? That isn't as easy to answer as I originally thought it would be. Personally, I like writing when there isn't anyone around to distract me, which often tends to be at night when everyone else in my house is asleep. The television tends to be a distraction so I turn it off. That being said, I sometimes listen to music while writing.

Why: I write because it's fun and I enjoy it immensely. I love being able to escape into another world and getting lost there. Being a writer isn't what I plan to do with the rest of my life, but I'm enjoying it while I can.

And that is officially enough about me...

My Biggest FP Pet Peeve

So the more time I spend on this site, the more I see people who insist that outlining is the only way to successfully finish a story. And that, my friends, is complete and utter bull. Everyone writes in different ways, and for a lot of people that means outlining, but for just as many it doesn't.

Personally, I like my characters to surprise me. No, scratch that. I need them to surprise me. I thrive on it, draw inspiration from it, and my stories would die without it. If I knew exactly how they were going to act or what they were going to say, I would get bored. Plain and simple.

I'm always thinking up characters - always. There are so many in my head at all times and I'd be willing to bet that half of them will never be put down on paper. But they're there and they have personalities, quirks, backstories, signature hairstyles... believe me, it gets more and more trivial the more I go on. I let them chill in my head waiting for their story, whatever it may be, to pop in and join them.

When I do get an idea for their story, I mull over it, I ponder it, and I let scenes come to mind on their own. Once I know where I'm going, and I just mean the major plot points, I start writing. I keep myself under control, going out of my way to avoid thinking about situations too far ahead in the future, and only plan from one major event to the next. It's what works for me, and I know that outlining wouldn't work out as far as I'm concerned. The story would lose its spark. You read a story because you want to find out what is going to happen, and that is the same reason I write. I want to see where everything is going to go, how this character would act in a certain situation compared to how that one would.

And now that you're sitting there, rolling your eyes, and thinking about how I'm a unique situation and that doesn't apply to most people, I'm going to tell you a little anecdote. When I was a sophomore in high school, one of our English teachers organized a club that brought in four authors to talk to us about their books as well as writing in general. We had opportunities to sit down with them, about twenty students at a time, and just listen and absorb. The one thing I really took from the experience is that no one writer writes like another. For instance, Nancy Werlin, author of Rules of Survival, writes via outlining. She plans out every detail before starting, down to the most insignificant of things. Alan Gratz, author of Samurai Shortstop, on the other hand says he does whatever comes naturally, sometimes he just sits down and writes, sometimes he plans. And I'm pretty sure Pete Hautman, author of Rash, said he sometimes finds himself writing the ending of a book long before he writes the beginning. And they're not the only writers with varying approaches.

There's this writing seminar by James Alan Gardner that I absolutely love. In it, Gardner talks about dozens of tips to help writers, many of which I've taken to heart and really try to integrate into my writing. But the one that is important here is his idea called reincorporation. He writes much the same way I do, meaning he has major plot points in mind but doesn't necessarily know how he'll get to them. In the seminar, he explains about a book he wrote where he reached a dead end and didn't quite know what to do. I won't bore you with the details, but in the end he drew on a minor character who originally was only included for characterization of a main character, using her as a means to further the story. Gardner says that reincorporating details you hadn't planned on coming back to when you first wrote them is the perfect cure for writer's block. I don't know if he's right - I've yet to be in a situation where I needed to use his advice - but his idea just goes to show that there is more to writing than knowing exactly what will happen before you even put pen to paper.

So while I get the hype about outlining, I don't necessarily think it's the only way to go about writing and I encourage you to think outside the outline and just go with the flow. You never know what might happen.

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