HarperWCK: writing

A YouTube playlist of my writing process. From the Timeline of stories to Music Is the Food of Love to Kanon Darkstar: Unnamed Couch Fic.

Hope y’all enjoy. If there’s a story you wanted dedicated to you, let me know.

~HarperWCK

P.S. The Unnamed Couch Fic videos are age-restricted because there’s mention of Matthias’ no-no places. If you want to read the transcript, it’s on my Patreon here => https://www.patreon.com/posts/wip-kanon-couch-45535933 <=.

Fill? 01 – on a gun

There’s a strange moment of disconnect between one thought and the next. It left him stumbling on numb legs.

He turned his body around and stood there, statuelike.

The world was made of fire.

It raged across the sky in blazing scarlet and gold. Giant wings reaching out to cover everything.

He tipped his head back and stared up at the parachute of light arching above him.

I’m going to die. The thought was spoken in a calm voice that rang through his ears as clearly as if they’d been outside of his own head.

It followed him as he ducked and ran and fought his way out of a city fallen to madness.

He came out of his fire with a starburst scar across the apple of his right cheek and an ankle that liked to pop when he walked. But he was alive and he could move to a suburban area and start a new life as a stay-at-home dad.

The woman he married was a dedicated career woman that had lokked startled by his offered Contract before agreeing.

The relationship wasn’t real, but he knew that he was a catch just on his looks alone.

It was kind of why he dressed as a farmer hipster when he wasn’t working. It was all plaid shirts, unshaven cheeks, and wildly tawsled hair.

He knew he was a hot mess. He could see the eyes that followed him around. It was why he’d switched to wearing glasses.

Add in Chucky, and suddenly he was the single dad that all kinds of women wanted to fix up.

Sometimes it made him laugh, when he was home alone with the sleeping baby. He would be watching TV in the living room, maybe smoking a little Calm and Cool, and he’d have a thought and find himself laughing like a loon.

Once upon a time he’d been a serious bad ass. He’d been a hero from the wars.

Then he was a rich woman’s darling husband and Contracted Trophy Spouse. They’d agreed to have a child that he would raise.

Then he was a widow receiving Survivor’s Benefits from her Memorial Trust. She’d arranged things so that both he and Chucky were taken care of. There was enough money that he didn’t have to work out of the home.

He was grateful to her. She’d been a generous wife when they were married, and she’d been generous in her death.

He made sure that her family saw plenty of Chucky. As much as he could manage anyway, as her family was well-traveled and it took a Google Calendar to follow them and schedule an appointment.

He’d added thousands of miles to his car keeping in contact with her family. It was something that she would have wanted.

Chucky became one of the Patriarch’s favorite grandchildren along with Frankie and the twins. By the time the first granddaughter was born–the apple of everyone’s eye–the gang of children running around was a hoard of well-loved family kids and their friends.

It made him proud to see his child growing up so well.

He could remember the horribleness of his own childhood.

This is why I survived, he thought. This is why that voice spoke to me.

Because if he hadn’t heard that voice ringing through his head, he wouldn’t have run. He would have hesitated. And he would have died with everyone else.

He stared around at the orderliness of his room and pushed away the memories of Before.

He was no kind of hero. He was just a man.

That was the promise he’d made himself and Chucky.

* * *

Charles glared at Nigel. How dare that old coot tell him what to do! But he knew there was no choice but to do as he was told. His parents had told him what to expect.

This was the man that had raised him until he was eight, then given him away. He didn’t see Nigel for fifteen years, then when they met again Nigel was nothing that he remembered.

The anal-retentive asshole took OCD to a whole other level of neurosis, but refused to take medication. He’d made friends with some hippies and followed an organic produce kick that involved aquaponics and hundreds of pounds worth of vegetables.

Yet he was still the man controlling Charles’ life until his twenty-fifth birthday. Which meant the marriage contract was valid and he’d just have to make the best of things, as he usually did.

Charliemehardy was the name he used online. Because he had big plans for what his life was going to be when he reached his Majority.

He’d continue to support Nigel, but he’d get his own place and his own life.

“Who am I marrying?” he asked.

Nigel shrugged elegantly. “That’s going to be up to you. I’ll have some profiles put together and arrange some invitations, but you choose who you like.”

Charles sighed in relief. At least he was going to be allowed a bit of freedom.

He glanced at his watch. “Oop, looks like I’ve gotta run, Daddy. I’ll see you later!”

Nigel tapped his cheek meaningfully. “Kiss.”

It was maybe a bit embarrassing at times, but Charles never refused the request. He pressed a brief kiss against the scar on Nigel’s cheek. “Later, Daddy.”

He hurried out of the study and down the back hall stairs. It took him until he reached the car to put his public mask back in place.

That was the thing about family. They could strip him bare in ways his friends had never managed.

Don’t forget to bring a towel to the end of the world

Octavia remembered the way they’d looked at her pile of blankets. Half a dozen scraps of cloth in various fabric types. “Those synthetic fabrics don’t breathe” they would cry, as though she was committing some great sin.

They didn’t understand that that was the point. They didn’t breathe.

Blankets, towels, heaps of fabric–they may have been something to keep her warm and dry back during the old days, but they developed hundreds of uses after the end of the world.

She could wave a white towel to show she gave up. She could clog a drain with a microbial, moisture wicking blanket lining.

She could hold onto the soft comfort of the velour blanket someone had gifted to her. She couldn’t even remember his name, just the fact that he’d been a truly nice guy and not a predator in drag (Kang-soo*, that dirtbag). Blanket-guy had bought her the camel colored blanket while they were at some outside venue. He’d gotten her a coffee too, and the way he’d looked at her had made her start thinking that he was falling in love with her.

She couldn’t remember his name and his face was a blur, but his kindness had remained with her for all the years after the end of the world. He’d become one of her sweetest memories of her life before.

She wondered what he would be like now if he had survived. The thought had entered her mind with a Terminator fanfic, one where Clair Dane’s character from the original timeline never ended up locked in a bunker with John Connor.

She ended up falling in love with him because she didn’t meet him again until after the end of her world. She’d met him at the lowest point of her life and he’d entered her world like a miraculous hurricane, saving her from the machines and her own misery. She hadn’t watched him grow from acne covered young boy into humanity’s messiah. He hadn’t been there to save her, and she’d lived through all the years of machine rule.

Meeting him after she’d seen misery meant that she’d had time to lose some of her idealism and wake up to reality. She grew up to love him as the memory of a sweet boy that liked her and as the amazing man he’d become, scrabbling in the dirt without her.

Together they became a great team. And then, at the end of the story, John makes the decision to send someone back to protect her… and incidentally ensure that young-her and young-him ended up together. It had seemed like a happier ending after all of the hardships she lived through, but then the epilogue had shown a future-her and John that had fallen out of love and barely tolerated each other. “Happy ending?” had been the last words.

Octavia didn’t believe that her time travel boyfriend was out there, but she occasionally imagined a scenario where Blanket-guy had survived the apocalypse. She liked to imagine him growing up strong and sure, gaining valuable survival skills. He would pass through the area for some reason and they would see each other. He would be single and a bit lonely. They would find a life together.

Until then, she had her velour blanket and her mounds of fleece and cotton. She had the house she lived in and the struggle laid out in front of her.

* * *

*Kang-soo, the street name for the indomitable Lord Brummel Beausby, a lady hiding from the Golden Emperor’s justice. She has been accused of killing her twin brother Sebastian. She’d heard their orders were to kill her on sight. She’d had no choice but to run. To give up everthing from her previous life.

Kimichee

Writing Style; My Process; Half the Time I Don’t Know What’s Going On

WRITING STYLE:

For writings that appear on the Internet, I use three periods for an ellipsis, two dashes for an em dash, etc. I do this because I’ve experienced the horror of a converter not being able to read smart quotes or common punctuation marks, which has turned my documents into so much unreadable garbage with that strange spade/question mark symbol everywhere. So to maintain readability no matter the format, I leave the auto correct off when I’m writing for the web.

I write my stories in Scrivener, clean them up in OpenOffice (where I add all the fancy formatting), and I’ve even broken out the Calibre and Sigil a time or two. It only takes a couple of minutes for me to go through a document and make a few style changes. It takes much longer if those style changes involve trying to find unrecognizable characters, disappearing italics and bold, or quotation marks that have been turned into a mess.

I believe in the Oxford comma (“potatoes, tomatoes, and lettuce” versus “potatoes, tomatoes and lettuce”). There is one space before an ellipsis and one after it (the time is … wow, that’s late) and it’s usually used to show missing words or a marked hesitance in dialogue. There is one space after a colon and the following word is not capitalized (These are some of my dog’s favorite foods: broccoli, beef, and chicken.) and you know you’re using it right if you can replace it with the word “namely” and still have your sentence work. There is one space after a period or a comma.

I do the best I can with spelling and grammar, but no one’s perfect. I have on occasion confused “compliment” for “complement” and have appreciated it when no one laughed at my gaff (check me out, I made a punny). I have a dorky sense of humor and I throw around a lot of pop culture references. There have been times when I’ve bent the rules of grammar for the look of a project, though I’ve always tried not to break the rules outright.

Once you pick a style guide to use for a document, stick to it. There’s nothing like trying to read a story written by someone that jumps from the Chicago Manual of Style, to the French style, to the German style, to … It would be better to just throw style out altogether rather than making a big mess of it.

MY PROCESS:

Depending on the story, I write in different ways. There’s always that same “Ah ha” moment when an idea pops into my head, but the way that it is developed can be very different.

For Visions of Blood & Shadow I started writing and I didn’t stop until it was finished. The story unfolded in front of me and I had no idea what was happening or how anything was going to wrap up until I was staring at the complete story on my computer screen. It was an oddly cathartic process, the words flooded out of me and there was an amazing sense of awe when I looked up one day and realized that it was done. I had written my first full-length novel. It blew my mind.

Heroes & Villains started in the same way. I began writing a superhero story, wrote a quick outline for Allies & Enemies, and went back to Heroes & Villains with a new sense of purpose. There are some parts where I wrote the dialogue and then built the scenes around it, or I wrote a scene description and kept the story moving, coming back later to fix what once went wrong. In my head, Heroes & Villains is the first part of my three-act structure (Setup: Heroes & Villains, confrontation: Allies & Enemies, and resolution: All That Remains) and introduces the main characters and sets the stage. It stands alone as a complete story, but it’s also the first of three parts that add to a larger narrative: the life and times of Darkstar x Blue Ice.

When I wrote Echo I decided in advance how many chapters there would be and what would happen in them. It is a sweet contemporary romance and that is exactly what I was going for. There’s the introduction of Cole and Anderson, the attraction and developing relationship, the conflict, and the HEA (happy ever after) ending. I’m well-known for my need to use flowery language and I tried to avoid that with Echo; simple and sweet was what I was aiming for, and I like to think I nailed it. That’s not to say that Echo is a perfect work–they never are–and I figure there will come a time in the future when it might be Star Wars Special Editioned, though I have no plans at the moment.

As with Echo, Centrifical was written with the use of an outline. I wrote a list of events, chapter listed them, and got to work. I wrote out the scenes and filled in the dialogue, which was the reverse of Echo, where I had pages of dialogue and filled in the actions and emotions. I liked the idea of a rock star and a B-rated TV star being best friends, and I’d even seen a picture somewhere of Jimi Hendrix and Leonard Nimoy being all bro-faced for the cameras. The story practically wrote itself.

I am inspired by many things–TV shows, movies, songs, photographs, weird things I read on Wikipedia. Ideas form in my brain and for a time I become obsessed. I can never know what will interest other people, but I try to write the stories that I would like to read. From a bumbling superhero turned bad ass supervillain, to a man with a speech impediment, to zombie elves and rock stars, it’s all there in my head. It’s just the way that the stories choose to express themselves that changes; there’s always that same feeling of “I made that” when I’m looking at a completed story.

And then there’s the editing, when the magic disappears and the work begins. Because seriously, editing is the worst part of the writing process. It’s that time when you put away the magic unicorns and start erasing all the stupid puns as you polish your bit of porn fluff into something cohesive with an actual plot.

I hate editing with a fiery vengeance, but without editing Anderson from Echo went from a blond to a brunet and back again, the bank of Megacity was 400-stories tall (that’s like 7900 feet), and the dead walked in several of my stories when I forgot who got killed off when. Editing is that moment when the fun stops and the real work begins. It’s an important part of any writing process and usually takes the longest amount of time, at least for me it does.

HALF THE TIME I DON’T KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON:

I love to write, watch TV, play with my dog, and eat. I generally follow the news of the world, but it’s not the greatest priority. Seriously, I was completely surprised to find out that SOPA is still being pursued by those same guys that can’t even keep the government running. I do not have my finger on the pulse of the world today.

A lot of things I find out from Tumblr or from an offhand remark on Twitter. But if no one outright comes to me with a “Look dude, this happened,” then I have no idea what’s going on. So if you’ve got some earth shaking news you want to share with me or you want me to share with the world for you, don’t be afraid to send me a blog link or start a dialogue in the comments of whatever blog I happen to be lurking on at the moment. I’m terrible about direct responding–that old OCD and social anxiety disorder rear their little heads–but I do share links and I do like making quick write ups as long as I have permission.

I don’t like to step on anyone’s toes, which makes me hesitant to publicly share some of the awesome stuff I come across, but if you want something shared I’m always happy to help out. Basically, I would love to pimp your shit. And since I don’t keep 24-hour vigilance on the whole Internet, feel free to tap me on the shoulder and point me to the awesome.

– As ever, peace, love, joy –

Fic

Just gave my teen boy fic a funny acronym: ASSLand.

Haha. It will probably never stick in my head, but it will most likely remain the notice I use in my story notes. “Welcome to ASSLand.”

FIC ==> A word usually used to mean “fanfiction” though usually with the rider “fanfic.” But it’s such a bit part of my vocabulary that it’s grown to signify any story of piece of fiction that I write. Continue reading