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Marissa Lingen

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The Method of Fun [Jul. 15th, 2012|05:35 pm]
Marissa Lingen
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I have been kind of flailing--not specifically about fiction, but about stuff, and it was sort of carrying over into my work on fiction even when it really was suboptimal to have it do so. (It. It it it. English is sometimes suboptimal in structure with this it-ness.)

Last week I started doing a thing when I sat down to work on my current project. I asked myself explicitly, "What can I do to make this more fun for myself?"

I don't know, guys--I don't know what-all you're dealing with, what problems you have, what your approach is, all that. But for me and right now? This is the stuff. I mean, I hope that at some point the fun becomes more automatic. Like, I hope at some point I have done all this stuff to make it more fun for myself and I sit down one morning at the desk and go, "What can I OOH OOH I KNOW THIS ONE PICK ME PICK ME." And then again the next day. That would be great.

But in the meantime, here is what the Method of Fun did for me on Friday: it made my protagonist way more active earlier in the book, it clarified her relationship with an extremely important character, it clarified why that character is one of the good guys even when he's not getting along with the protag, it added hijinks to what is supposed to be a very hijinky book (shut up, English language, hijinky is a word now), and it fleshed out a bit of plot that was in semi-handwave mode. ("And then they figure out that X is sort of sketchy." Now he actually does sketchy things! Lots of them! Where the protag and her friends can see! In specific chapters, even!)

And also? I had fun.

And that was just Friday.

Earlier in the week the Method of Fun gave me two thousand words in 45 minutes.

And also I had fun.

So here's what I mean about the Method of Fun: it's not like the Method of Fun is giving me fun but is making my protag passive and putting handwave bits in, or making me feel all warm and fuzzy but not get anything done. And I think when I am flaily--maybe this happens to you, too, maybe not--I sometimes get into this mode where I feel like I R Srs Rthur, This R Srs Storee, and if I try the Method of Fun--if I try even thinking about what will be fun for me instead of Srs Rthur Srs Storee--I will end up fingerpainting on the kitchen floor.

And when I feel like that I should maybe go fingerpaint on the kitchen floor, because possibly the fingerpainting will be a fun and useful outline of Chapter 12. And even if it isn't, getting the hell over myself cannot hurt.

Possibly this is useless to the rest of you. But I was just going to put it down where I could look at it: Method of Fun. This is my new thing. Go, Method of Fun.

[User Picture]From: elisem
2012-07-15 10:53 pm (UTC)
And even if it isn't, getting the hell over myself cannot hurt.

I am swooping down on this phrase and carrying it back to my nest.
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[User Picture]From: also_huey
2012-07-15 11:01 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: chinders
2012-07-15 11:16 pm (UTC)
I think actually the word is hijinkalicious.
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[User Picture]From: also_huey
2012-07-16 01:10 am (UTC)
No, no. Hijinky is the new shenaniganism.
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[User Picture]From: rysmiel
2012-07-16 12:17 am (UTC)
mmm. I think I would want to be careful with this, in that it's all too plausible that many days what was fun for me might turn into a couple of thousand words of a character going off on a tangent that they thought was entertaining but that turns out to have no real connection to anything else, and I might awake to find myself transformed into a monstrous Neal Stephenson.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2012-07-16 12:27 am (UTC)
How sad for you.

But also--there are times in my life when the pressure of holding back Monstrous Neal Stephenson might be worse than just letting out the Monstrous Neal Stephenson, were that my bent.

And also also--nothing gets out of the house without revisions.
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[User Picture]From: ashnistrike
2012-07-16 01:01 am (UTC)
For one of my current projects, I have a list of Things That Will Be Fun instead of a plot outline. Plot seems to be happening nevertheless, which I count as a win.
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From: swan_tower
2012-07-16 08:15 am (UTC)
That's more or less how I'm approaching my current series. Hopefully the result will entertain others . . . .
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From: vcmw
2012-07-16 01:09 am (UTC)
Any reasonable and smart idea that validates a bit of fun in the universe is good for me... but this one was especially good for me at the moment.
So thanks!
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[User Picture]From: janni
2012-07-16 01:24 am (UTC)
Making sure I have fun is one of those things I struggle to remember, especially since I do believe that if the writer is having fun it will (after, as you say, revising) result in a book the reader is more likely to enjoy, because it affects the energy and nature of the whole story.

I like the idea of sitting down and deciding consciously, okay, where's the fun for me today? Like it so, so much better than most writing advice I see. Am going to give it a try.

Edited at 2012-07-16 01:25 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: pameladean
2012-07-16 02:44 am (UTC)
"Hijinky" is the BEST word. Today, anyway.

I commend your method. Fun is awesome.

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[User Picture]From: aamcnamara
2012-07-16 02:49 am (UTC)
Method of Fun! Yes. I will use that, I think.
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[User Picture]From: rmnilsson
2012-07-17 01:33 pm (UTC)
Going to see if I can apply that to my work. Not sure how exactly that'll fit into the whole "getting paid to do a thing" model of employment.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2012-07-17 01:40 pm (UTC)
It may have to be sneakier with the paid employment.
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[User Picture]From: thanate
2012-07-17 02:00 pm (UTC)
Possibly my most useful take-away from Viable Paradise (besides "look! other people!") was listening to Steve Brust be enthusiastic about writing, and remembering that in fact that was more or less how I used to approach this stuff, um, fifteen or twenty years ago, and it was really quite silly to have stopped.

This is related, I think, to the thing I got out of a NaNoWriMo pep talk once about how if you don't want to write that bit, consider whether actually you don't need to write it at all, but could do just as well going on to the next fun bit and mentioning that this other thing happened in passing. Or come up with a better transition, or whatever...

These reminders, they are a good thing. Yay fun! Now if only I didn't seem to need a new one every six months or so.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2012-07-17 02:05 pm (UTC)
I write out of sequential order. So I really write the next bit that seems like the most possible fun. Happily for me, on first drafts it seems that by the time I get around to the bit that seemed like it wasn't going to be as much fun, it's often gotten to be more fun.
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[User Picture]From: bummble
2012-07-22 01:55 pm (UTC)
Great post!
(here via Sartorias)

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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2012-07-22 02:44 pm (UTC)
Thanks and welcome.
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