generally, they're either:
a) little mental images that simply beg to be written. most of the random bits of the soon-to-be-epic that is "tango up on sunset" (or, at least, the supposed 'sequel') started life as little images in my head. cloudgazing, which probably only sweet will know about, was one of these. except that's not going in the fic, i just like it as a standalone...
b) lines that go around my brain and won't shut up. usually, these have a specific 'voice' to them so i know which character they are (or which Muse is responsible), such as falling, which was based on aeryn very specifically telling me she was falling. sometimes, annoyingly, they don't have voices, such as nothing more you can do which i eventually determined to be crais, for some reason.
c) dreams. dreams are usually inspirational, and fragmented, but sometime there's just one little thing that'll inspire an entire fic. cradle, believe it or not, was based on an incredibly simple premise that would have done for a short fic. and now it's at 20 chapters and still growing...
d) oftentimes, my ideas are merely a need to 'fix' things. TUOS being a case in point...
e) mostly, it's the Muses chattering that does it. when you have 7 voices nattering away in your head, you come up with lots of ingenious ways to shut the buggers up...
Why do you choose to write in the tenses you do (present tense, or first person POV, or third person) and how do you choose particular styles for particular stories?
i use whatever works. on angst pieces, i used to prefer first person, but when i feel like being horrendously descriptive, often it doesn't work. my short stories are all first person p.o.v. because that was how they were meant to work. each of the characters in them has a specific 'voice'.
Do you have music that inspires your writing? (That you listen to while writing, or certain songs that remind you of certain characters.)
hee... andrew lloyd webber, because i've so far done 'fixes' for two of his musicals. also, songs from most of them also provoke images that begged to be turned into things. when writing angst, dido's 'no angel' album, because it's guaranteed to make you feel worse. and last night 'moulin rouge' was being annoyingly inspirational for JoeMuse, but i'm not listening to him this time...
How do you brainstorm what comes next in a story?
usually, i don't, i just let it see its own course. if, however, it's proving to be a huge epic of a thing, i've started doing vague plans either on paper or in my head. cradle is being annoying right now because i don't know how it's going to end, but have already written two post-fic fics...
What do you do when you hit a road block?
give up and come back when it wants to play. or, if i really want to get onto the next section, persevere, write it badly if i have to, and go and tidy it up later.
How often do you end up deleting a whole bunch of already-written stuff, and how hard is it to let that stuff go?
little things that are obviously wrong, i don't mind getting rid of. but even the worst things from when i was 16 i'm unable to throw out. i'm pretty sure that most of the random SB bits aren't going to end up in the finished fic, but i'm not going to get rid of them because i like them. i'm a hoarder of things, and that goes for writing, too.
What if you really, really want to include something but part of you is saying it's not right for that particular story?
try to find a way around it so it fits ;) or save it for another story, if i can't.
Do you take notes longhand, and if so, when?
only, it seems lately, for SB fic. some of cradle was hand written when a computer wasn't available, and some of my 2am farscape efforts were handwritten. i'd love to do more things longhand, but when i have a really good idea, it just takes too long to do and a word processor is more useful. i type faster than i write and at about the same speed as i think. i'm trying to include making 'mediumhand' notes when at home with the typewriter, though ;)
Do you use challenges by other people to inspire you?
not as often as i'd like to. setting myself challenges is hard enough.
Do you do anything in particular to get you into the right mindset to write a certain character or characters?
with fanfic - for things like farscape or buffy, generally, i'll either watch more episodes, or find a fic i know is good, or one of mine that had good reviews, and re-acquaint myself with the characters. or, in the case of some of them, just listen to what they tell me in my head (eg aeryn, john, joe, norma, spike, erik) with SB, it took only seeing the show again to get the characters in my head again. except that now the tour's finished i'll have to make do with the soundtrack...
with original writing - often, it's easier, because i have a basic idea of what the character's meant to be like already. all i have to do is find a passage with that character in it and re-read it.
Which characters are easiest for you to write, and WHY?
again, those in my head (see above), and some others, depending on what it is. in SB i'm finding artie and betty equally easy and fun to write as joe and norma, ditto max (although eve's the expert there :P) in farscape, most of the in-since-season 1 characters are the easiset - john, aeryn, d'argo, chiana, pilot, scorpy and crais, in a funny way when he's angry. the newer characters like jool tend to be more difficult. and i'm not even going to try and write sikozu yet... and harvey's just good because you can make him do anything :P with buffy, i find anya and xander the most difficult characters to write of all of them, and also willow. any character that has lots of 'isms' tends to be tricky unless you know them really well.
as for those i create myself - i find the characters i either like a lot, or intensely dislike for whatever reasons, are the easiest to write. the side characters are the most difficult when they're not that interesting... in omnis falsus est i have this whole range of extras who sounded very interesting when i came up with them, but they're not very cooperative and they have too many secrets right now for me to be that interested in them.
Which ones are hardest, and again, WHY?
Which characters are most like you emotionally?
i don't think any of them are, to be honest. although i did liken myself to ezri dax at one point...
How often do you feel like what you're writing is fulfilling some emotional need - ie, when you're writing comfort, is it because you often feel that you don't get it IRL?
the only time this ever occurs is with angstfic, where, instead of angsting to myself and letting it ferment, i pour it all into another character. luckily around christmas, 'farscape' was the perfect vessel for it. and sunset is one big barrel o' angst, anyway.
What about writing smut - do you find it easy, difficult?
never tried and don't intend to. personally, i've never seen the point of it. i'd rather it be left to reader's imaginations. (well, i might attempt to do naomi-style smut, where there's no actual smut... but i think that only works where yensch bracelets are involved...)
What kinds of smut are easiest for you to write, and WHY?
Which of your stories is your favorite and WHY? Least favorite?
i have lots i don't like. my favourite original story is probably 'snow' because it was reflective of exactly what i felt like doing at the time of writing - running away. cradle is one of my favourites because it ended up so much better than i ever intended. rhapsody, which i will finish, honest, is also one of those that ended up far better than i anticipated when i set out with the idea. and TUOS will always have a special place for me, not only because it was so bizarrely inspired, but also because the idea i had worked, and, of course, faith brown read it. it's my special fic, for that reason.
oh, and the pantsfic. because, for something come up with at 4am, i think naomi and i did a fantastic job :P
least favourite? hm... usually my first efforts at things, when i'm just starting out (with the exception of TUOS) because they're hideously out of character.
Which of your titles do you like the most/least, and why?
i'm a sucker for one word titles, or play on words. my favourite titles include 'bohemian' (even though it's a songfic series, god forbid), 'la fille que pleure' (the french version of 'la figlia che piange', based on that poem), 'coin with two sides' because it plays on the episode title 'dog with two bones', 'my funny valentine', because it is :P, 'being', because it turned out to be cleverer than i thought, 'tango up on sunset' is just apt, 'rhapsody', but i'm not sure why, and 'cradle', because i managed to get in a nifty rebirth theme with it :) and also my 'today's forcast...' series, 'thunder', 'eclipse', 'sunrise, sunset', 'snow', 'rain', and, coming at some point, 'wind' and 'cloudy' - clever double meanings on them which i'm quite proud of.
as for those i don't like: 'moya' is a sucky title but it was the best i could do. 'sunshine and snowdrifts' is just cheesy. 'dreaming of you' - ditto. actually, any that use a line from the fic because i couldn't think of anything else. and 'omnis falsus est', because that isn't what i wanted...
How do you choose titles for your stories
i try to find something that is apt, but also obscure, like 'cradle'. and, again, i love one or two-word titles, if i can manage it.
Do you write differently with a cowriter than you do alone? Is it easier or harder?
i've only ever had two co-writers, and i find it more difficult to do. for starters, i'm usually left with the job of editing the thing together and making it flow (although with 'identity' that wasn't quite so difficult as it was in screenplay format. with the pantsfic, it's seamless because naomi and i are equally sarcastic in it. however, what i do find difficult is trying to make myself work to the other person's pace, be that writing faster or slower, and trying to split the workload more or less equally.
i prefer to co-write as i've done with TUOS with sweet - that is, when i get to something i could never possibly know about (in particular, this was joe teaching norma to drive, and me having never driven) i find someone who does, and get them to write it, and then make it slot nicely into the main fic.
Do you write original fic differently from fanfic (if you write it at all)?
definitely. with fanfic, the characters are already there for you, which is what (i find) makes it easier to do. you can play with the characters to your own ends knowing that it won't have any effect on them in the long run on the show/in the book/movie/whatever. also, with fanfic (although less so of late), i don't try as hard. i tend to try and save the huge descriptive passages and things for original things.
original work can be more fun when you're feeling creative. you have completely free reign on the characters, situations and places, and on the plot. except it tends to need planning more. so with original stuff, i have to have something resembling a plan before i start, or it all goes horribly wrong.
For series and long works, do you decide a goal in advance to stop at or are they open ended? If you do choose a goal, how often do you stick to it?
usually, no, i just crash in blindly and blunder towards the end. but sometimes i have a plan, which is considerably easier ;) and often i don't stick to my original endings, either...
How do you deal with character plinkage?
if i knew what it was, i'd tell you...
When a scene feels forced, what are the first few tricks you try to fix it?
figure out why it's forced, and try to remove/add things to make it less so. or come back to it later and punch it til it works.
Are most of your fixes deletions or additions?
How long does it usually take you to write a story? How many revisions do you go through?
anywhere between three hours and three years. and as for revisions - sometimes i don't revise at all. sometimes it's perfect on the first go. and sometimes i have to go through about 6 different read-throughs until it works, or until i come up with that one key line or word that'll give the whole thing new meaning.
Do you use beta readers?
i never used to. i used to have two people who read things through and threw random comments of either "i love it!" or "huh" or "okay, no..." but no actual beta. i'm a beta-reader myself, so i tend to beta my own things. except having sweet around for the SB fic has proven incredibly useful because she knows more about movies than me. and naomi isn't my beta, but she likes grammarvulturing me all the same...
Do you favor clean, clear endings, or do you go for open endings?
depends entirely on the piece. if a clean ending works, i'll use it. but sometimes it just feels like a cop out, so i often prefer to leave it open ended with possibilities for sequels. bu then, sometimes that can be a cop out, too... it's tricky. i just go with whatever works.