Today we are going to discuss two subjects, strongly related: research and feedback in writing. When you create a story, you are not only giving your readers a plot and some (hopefully believable) characters, but you are letting them visit your world. It can even be a totally new world because your story is set in an unusual context or in another era.
The feedback you'll get will tell you if the "time/place machine" you are building with your story actually works. Feedback is one of the most precious things in the fandom: both readers and authors should remember that reviews aren't meant only as a praise -- although positive reviews are surely flattering. If readers provide good constructive criticism, reviews can become a great way to improve your writing and to give readers better stories to enjoy.
Readers, prereaders and betas are your best friends, even when their suggestions can be difficult to swallow.
For stories that require a lot of research, you might consider getting in touch with a "technical" prereader -- e. g. an expert of history, if your story is set in a different era, or an FBI expert, like in Stolen.

My Reading Lounge welcomes State of delusion, who is ready to answer some questions about her writing process and her story,

  • Stolen - http://www.fanfiction.net/s/6765236/1/Stolen

  • Summary: When Bella Swan was 9 years old, her mother was murdered and her life was irrevocably altered forever. Now that Bella is all grown up, she has joined the FBI, and is determined to bring those who stole her life from her to justice. 

    Let's discuss this fic with the author!

    Raum: "Stolen" is your first fanfic in the Twilight fandom. Would you like to tell us more about it?

    State of delusion: Funny, that like Meyer’s Twilight, the story came to me in a dream. I have changed and evolved it quite a bit since then. It came to me shortly after I started reading fanfiction, but it took me a year to get up the guts to stick it on paper.
    The story begins with Bella as a young child. Her father is an FBI agent working to bring down a powerful international syndicate, the Volturi. When he gets too close, the Volturi go after him, killing Bella’s mother practically before her eyes. It changes her whole life. She vows to join the FBI and bring them down.
    Now, she finds herself grown, in the FBI, and doing what she always wanted to do. She is also falling in love. But will she really be able to bring down the Volturi? What price will she have to pay along the way?
    This is an Alternate Universe fic. It does have vampires.
    Who is your favorite character in the saga and why?

    SoD: Of course, like many of us, I am enamored with Edward. I have always thought this was Meyer’s best character. He is in many ways the perfect man—what every young girl dreams about—his perfect looks, his intellect, he’s rich, strong and fast. But, like every great character he has his fatal flaws. He’s a vampire, which in and of itself is a huge flaw, but it’s his self-loathing, that to me, is his greatest flaw. It makes him human—makes him real.
    Out of the minor characters, I always loved Charlie. I thought Meyer did a great job creating him. He reminded me a lot of my own father. At times, he was what you expected of a father—watchful, protective and worried for his daughter. But then, there were the times when he just didn’t know what to do with a teenage girl, and he fumbled and floundered. I found him to be very believable.

    R: In "Stolen" Bella joins the FBI. How did you come up with this idea? Did you have to do a lot of research to develop this character?

    SoD: You always hear that you should write what you know. Well, I obviously ignored that sage advice, because I know absolutely nothing about the FBI. I have had to do a lot of research for this story, and it is very time consuming.  It is important to me for the story to be as technically correct as possible so that it is believable. Fortunately, there is a lot of information about the FBI on the web, and I have been able find most of the information I need. The rest has been directly from my imagination.
    I did have a reader who works for the FBI contact me recently to tell me what a good job I was doing on this story. She said that, so far, I had really nailed the technical parts about the FBI—that the story was really believable. I was so happy to hear that I had gotten most of it correct.
    We have talked a bit back and forth since then, and she has recently agreed to become a technical pre-reader for me. I am really looking forward to have her help on my story.

    R: Can you describe the relationship you established with your readers so far?

    SoD: I’m new author and this is a new story; so far, my readership is small. But my reviews have been very positive thus far and that has been such an inspiration to me. I don’t think readers realize how much this input means to authors. I know I didn’t until I started writing. But I have had some readers that have provided me with some great feedback that I have really been able to take to heart. And, of course, there is the connection I was able to make with my newest pre-reader that I mentioned above. I’m quite excited about that.

    R: Would you like to describe your writing process? Has it changed during the time you've spent in the fandom?

    SoD: I am very new to the writing process. I never really consider myself a writer or someone who would take this on. As I became immersed in the fanfiction world, I kept wondering if this was something that I could do. I was really terrified to put myself out there, but I had a few stories swirling around in my head and I decided to give it a try.
    It has been a real challenge for me, because I don’t think writing comes easily for me. I write best when inspiration strikes, and unfortunately that tends to come in fits and bursts. I just went through a terrible period of writers block. I wrote and deleted my last chapter a number of times before I felt comfortable with it.
    On the bright side, I found that I love writing. It is extremely cathartic for me. I find myself wanting to learn more about the process and working to really improve my writing. It can be a bit intimidating, but I know that it is something I will continue work on.
    Another great surprise, and one that I am really enjoying, is how collaborative the process can be. I have one pre-reader and two betas that provide a tremendous amount of input and constructive criticism on this story. And now, I just added another pre-reader to help with the technical information pertaining to the FBI. It’s been a lot of fun working with each of them. Of course, then there is the input from the readers, too. They have all helped me become a better writer.
    You are a geologist. Did you job experience influence your story?
    SoD: No, not really. Maybe in the respect that Bella is a woman working in a typically male dominated field.
    I keep trying to think of how I could write a story that would pull from my knowledge and experiences as a geologist. I just can’t think of way to make it exciting enough for wrap a story around. I will have to keep working on it.

    Thank you, State of delusion!
    I made a blinkie for "Stolen" - here it is!


    1. Thank you, Raum! I love the blinkie. It's wonderful. And, thank you for having me contribute to your writing lab. It was such fun.

    2. I'm very glad we met through our stories! Thank you for your post!

      - Raum


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