1. What's the nicest thing someone has ever said about your writing?
A friend once told me many years ago that my style was so distinctive it just jumped off the page at her as being mine, whether that was fiction writing or otherwise. This was, to be fair, whilst or just after I was at university and waxing lyrical about pretty much everything on LiveJournal, rather than more recently where it's been a dumping ground of work and health rants. :P
commoncomitatus tells me I've broken her on a regular basis - and since that's usually my intention, I'll take it as a compliment. :P
Also, y'know, I had an Actual Celebrity read one of my fanfics and tell me to my face that she enjoyed it, so quite frankly that trumps everything else!
2. Do you listen to music when you write or does music inspire you? If so, which band or genre of music does it for you?
I can't listen to music whilst writing because it distracts me too much, but when I'm not actively writing, most music will remind of whichever fandom I happen to be geeking out over at any given time - hence why I end up writing so many songfics. Bands / artists which have been particularly inspiring have been the Killers, P!nk, Katie Melua, Cerys Matthews and Tegan & Sara, amongst others.
3. Do you write oneshots, multi-chapter fics or huuuuuuge epics?
I'm getting slightly better at oneshots these days, mostly for Sunset. I used to write loads of angsty oneshots for Farscape back in the day.
Following my writing lull between 2005 and 2008 (ish) I couldn't write oneshots to save my life, because everything turned into a multi-chapter monster regardless of how short I intended it to be. I suspect I'd had a lot of words lying dormant for so long that they just wanted an outlet. :)
I don't think I could be one of those fanfic authors who write 80+ chapter stories that never seem to end, because once I have a story idea, it tends to have a very firm direction and that also dictates roughly how long it'll be.
4. What's the word count on your longest fic?
My post-season 6 Buffy fic, "Cradle", which came in at around £120K words. I think "Broken Record" would have exceeded that had I ever finished it (I'd reached the 33K mark at chapter 5 and there were at least another 15 to go!)
I think my longest after that is "The Problem in Paris" (my Jonathan Creek / POTO crossover), which came in at around 57K, and "Precious Illusions" comes in third at 38K.
Pretty much every story in my current WIP list will be a multi-chapter story with a simliar word count. :P
5. Do you write drabbles? If so, what do you normally write them about?
HAHAHAHAHA no. I have written precisely one drabble in my entire life, for Jonathan Creek, and it turned into the basis of a multi-chapter story afterwards because there was too much I wanted to explore. I do not do succinct and I am in awe of people who can cram so much exposition and imagery into 100 words.
6. What's your favorite genre to write?
Angst, angst, and more angst, with a healthy dose of fluff on the side. Hurt/comfort. Occasional forays into actual comedy (Pantsfic, anyone?). Did I mention angst? Also angst.
7. First person or third person - what do you write in and why?
Mostly third person (or CF3 if you want to be technical about it) with occasional first person, though I think the only fandom for which I've done that regularly is POTO, and that's because the prequel novel by Susan Kay is in first person throughout and forms the basis of most of my characterisation. I did one story for Sunset in first person but if I was to rehash it I would definitely convert it to third.
I think there's more wiggle room involved by doing character introspection via third person narrative than by the character explicitly saying "I felt this" or "I thought that", and it's very difficult to achieve a convincing first person narrative unless you are really, really good at capturing character voices. And even then, it's hard to keep it convincing. The exception might be if you're going for a full-on film noir vibe with a first person narrator, in which case you'd be emulating that style rather than specifically speaking as the character - and frankly that sounds like a double challenge!
From my perspective the only character it properly works for is Erik/the Phantom, because he has such as specific way of phrasing things and is canonically known to (a) talk to himself and (b) talk about himself in third person. For everyone else, it's probably safer to use third person.
Also - there is nothing worse than the second-hand embarassment of people writing smut in first person. WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT.
8. Do you use established canon characters or do you create OCs?
The only OC's I have ever created have been for comedy value. Without fail.
Very rarely I throw in an OC to create dramatic tension or observe things from outside, but yeah, mostly they're just for lulz.
For me, half the fun and the challange of writing fanfic is to take the established characters and write them effectively, both in terms of voice and mannerisms. I also write a lot of "fix-it" stories and OC's don't really have a place there.
I saw this really interesting post on Tumblr recently about how there are certain phrases that only appear in fanfiction rather than official published works, and most of them were describing physical mannerisms or vocal inflections and so forth. To me, that makes perfect sense, because fanfic writers are trying to make an already established character recognisable to an audience who already knows him/her - with an OC you have no prior expectations, and don't need to describe every single hand movement or facial expression.
Honestly, if I ever do my Masters (which is looking less and less likely, but I can dream), fanfiction and fandom culture would still be a fascinating area to explore. It's changed so much in such a short space of time, and stuff like the above - specific phrasing found only in the genre - is only the tip of the iceberg.
9. What is your greatest strength as a writer?
Like most writers, I am terrible at blowing my own trumpet about my writing (what do you mean it's not an incoherent pile of dross?!) but I have it on good authority that I'm pretty decent at getting character voices down pat. (Quote from a review many years ago: "scratch good, make that PRECISE.") I've been told I can create the atmosphere of a scene very well (even though it never quite lives up to what I have in my head when I read it back).
On a personal note I think it's a strength that I can plot stories out almost as they come to me and I always know mostly where they're going (even though there might be a few diversions along the way) and I can hold unfinished stories/concepts in my brain for literal years without losing sight of the details.
Also, if I'm writing a story for someone, I can generally anticipate exactly what sort of interactions/scenes will make them smile/cry/laugh/break, and include them at some point. And if I set my mind to it, I can actually finish things. Sometimes.
Writing about writing makes me want to actually be writing. Hopefully now the weather is warming up and I'm feeling a bit more human, I can get back on track with finishing / starting / typing things up...
What's this? Two entries in as many days? MADNESS.