What’s this, you say? Some manner of “Writing Process Blog Tour” on the Internet thingamabob? What a whimsical and innovative notion! Mayhaps I shall partake.
Hi there, folks. I’m Stefan Gagne, an online fiction author who specializes in web serials and web novels. You might know me by my moniker “Twoflower,” named after the Terry Pratchett character back when I had to hide the fact that I was piggybacking internet access off my sister in high school. You might remember me from my old anime fanfic, or my earlier works such as Sailor Nothing and Unreal Estate. You might have played my Neverwinter Nights games, Penultima or Elegia Eternum or the HeX coda. You might know me from my recent books, anachronauts and City of Angles. You might not know me at all! Regardless of your level of knowledge, I bid you welcome to this stop on the Writing Process Blog Tour.
I was introduced to the tour by longtime reader Selphie Trabia, who writes for the Owl’s Well blog. If you’d like to back up one stop on the tour to see what she’s written, I’ve got you covered with this link. But, uh, come back here after and read my majestic words of wisdom kplox.
What am I working on?
I move from project to project, as a shark moves from swimmer to swimmer. My current main course is City of Angles, a harrowing adventure full of amused laughs and terrified laughs and terrified screaming. We’re two-and-a-half books in on the series and nearing the end, so no doubt I’ll have another gargantuan boondoggle to write after I’m done with this one.
Outside of writing, I follow the video game industry quite a bit, particularly the indie PC scene. I’ve always aspired to make my own games — and in fact DID make some games, back in the Neverwinter Nights era. But my strength is definitely in writing rather than designing systems, so I’m focusing on narrative in the here and now.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I’m often wondering exactly what genre my writing is. “Young Adult” fits, but only because once I start writing without dropping perpetual F bombs and showing lots of bewbs, I feel obliged to carry on in that vein for consistency’s sake. It’s certainly got its moments of abject horror alongside all the amusing wordplay; reading this to the Dr. Seuss crowd would get you hauled away by the cops. I’m not sure exactly how different the material itself is from other novels… I’m sure somebody else is writing comedy-drama adventure tales. Heck, most of the authors I love and adore do that.
But the manner in which I create it, that’s another story. In fact, if you’ll permit me to change the template a bit for this blog tour, let’s tackle that first before we do the rest of the questions.
How does my writing process work?
All my writing is done online, in full public view. (A few bonus short stories are held back for the retail versions, but otherwise it’s all on the website.) I post “drafts in progress,” with several new scenes going online each Saturday morning. I invite feedback and comments, from mechanical stuff like typo reports to full emotional reactions, and use all all this lovely communication to improve the work for the final drafts and eventual book publication. It’s a very interactive experience at the bleeding edge of the tale, with all the finished work up there as well for folks who are new to the series and want to dive right in.
I’ve even experimented with livestreaming my writing, describing the process as I go… why I cut out a paragraph here, why I reworded that bit there, etc. Recently I posted some “lost scenes” which were junked versions of a chapter introduction. It’s all here, warts and all, for an engaged reader to enjoy.
As to the nuts-and-bolts of the process, I like to work from the outside in. My books always begin in the planning phase: deciding how a story will start, and how it will end. I flesh out a few key steps that need to happen to get from the start to the end. Chapter by chapter this pattern repeats, like a fractal; the broad overview with starting point and finishing goal, then filling in everything between. Scene by scene, paragraph by paragraph, from sketchy to fleshed out.
The hardest part, really, is fleshing it out. I can have a killer opening and a great plan for how everything will wrap up, but deciding the little things can stymy me completely. “I know where this character’s going to end up. But is he going to be present for the conversation at lunch, or should he find out about it after? Which makes the most sense?” I can get stuck on something like that for a WEEK compared to “How does it all end?”. Bad craziness.
Why do I write what I do?
The simple answer is “because I have to.” I have a grave fixation on productive use of my free time, and if I’m not creating something — specifically something for public consumption, something that someone somewhere will get something out of in some way — I’m wasting my time. There’s no real choice here. I can write, I need to write, I have to write.
But as to WHAT I write… I like to explore some of my favorite themes, mixing it up with how I explore them and in what worlds. I like to write about short term consumption versus long term gains. I like to write about selfishness versus community support. I like to think about the patterns of history, and those who are doomed to repeat them. I like to write about desperately hanging on to your ideals in an imperfect universe which prefers to complacently chug along with whatever works. I want to show that there’s another way to live, a better way to live, whatever it may be…
A bit overwrought philosophically, there. In short: I write because I think, and I hope others think about these things too through my writing. And I hope these random ponderances brought a few ponderances to light for you, as well.
So, that’s all I’ve got for you. The next stop on your tour will be a two-for-one; Katriel Page and studyofanime. Both of them writes about the study of Japanese culture. It’s non-fiction, but very fascinating material and clearly crafted with extreme care. I’m proud to be one of her Patreons, if that’s the correct noun.