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Author Topic: A Moral Quandary  (Read 525 times)
annevpreussen
Gunner
**
United States United States


Captain Annemarie of the Eagle's Arrow Airship


« on: April 11, 2017, 12:00:36 am »

Hello, fellow writers! Seeing as anyone active in this section of our lovely forum is more than likely interested in steampunk and writing, I figured this was the best place to ask for advice (sorry in advance for the length).

I discovered steampunk a little over six years ago, and a year or so after that, I had persuaded three of my very close friends to throw themselves into the pit of improbably-designed airships and ridiculous pseudonyms with me. I had made up a steampunk alter ego the moment I learned what steampunk was all about, and they quickly did the same. In no time they had joined me in writing stories about our steamy personas on an airship (that may or may not have ignored most laws of physics) and our fictional crew. It was just for fun and never very good, but I loved it. I still do love it.

I'm the only one who writes anymore, and while we still occasionally toss out the old inside jokes and still sometimes call each other our persona's names, I think I'm the only one who still cares. We collectively decided to take a step back from this and focus on other things... but I don't want to. This is my favorite thing to write and the most love I've ever poured into a continuous project, and I don't want it to end.

This is where I need the advice of other steampunks/writers. Do you think that I should keep writing? I wouldn't use my friends' characters, only the ones I made/were decided to be under my creative control. I might in fact start the whole thing over so I don't have to somehow explain how there's only one main character left and where her friends went. But I feel so conflicted!!! These stories were in a way representative of our friendship, and while my relationship with most of these people has evolved over time, we aren't any less close now than we were at the start. We used our characters to work out real-life problems in a slightly less brash way, and writing characters as ourselves forced us to face our flaws. This started as mine alone, but it turned into much more. I feel selfish for wanting to take back full control of my project, and guilty for not talking about it sooner when I've had plans to start writing again for months.

What do you think I should do?
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I wear goggles so you can't see when I'm staring at you.
Xbwalker
Deck Hand
*
United States United States


« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2017, 12:38:16 am »

Do you love to write?

Does it bring you joy?

Do you find yourself filling your time with other activities but still thinking about writing?

Sounds like you need to write. I would recommend the speech from Sister Act 2 "Letters to a Young Poet."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5CyuMDuEQY
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Hez
Zeppelin Captain
*****
Canada Canada


aka Miss Primrose C Leigh


« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2017, 02:22:01 am »

Ask your friends if they mind. 
If you have any dream, no matter how distant of someday making money from your writing then I would think you need to keep only the characters you created or have them sign away their rights.  The first is safer.

Either way Write! if that is what you enjoy.
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Algernon Dalrymple Smythe
Guest
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2017, 07:55:43 am »

If you don't do what you really want to do, when you have the opportunity to do it

then you will regret not doing it for the rest of your life

just to add - most of the characters in my first novel are based upon people I met at University ...shhhhhhhh..I find that if I base them on real people - and exagerrate somewhat - the characters come ready formed, their speech patterns are already there..makes life easier

« Last Edit: April 11, 2017, 05:07:17 pm by Algernon Dalrymple Smythe » Logged
Madasasteamfish
A clanger waiting to be dropped......
Board Moderator
Rogue Ætherlord
**
United Kingdom United Kingdom


09madasafish
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2017, 08:00:18 pm »

Do it. If you enjoy writing (and it sounds like you do) then continue.

You can potentially still use your friends characters if you wish, (I'd ask their permission first) simply by using them as inspiration for your own similar characters, or to create your own versions of them. It wouldn't take much effort for you to do anything more than the kind of 'find and replace' exercise that some people do with existing characters. You could keep elements of one of your friends' characters, but modify them, say swap around a features, characteristics and histories between them, and throw in a few new details. If there's an element of one of their character's you like then keep it, or attribute it to another character. But at the same time you could get rid of aspects you don't like.


Remember; "Good writers borrow. Great Writers steal".  Wink
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I made a note in my diary on the way over here. Simply says; "Bugger!"

"DON'T THINK OF IT AS DYING, JUST THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH."
annevpreussen
Gunner
**
United States United States


Captain Annemarie of the Eagle's Arrow Airship


« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2017, 08:26:51 pm »

I didn't expect so many responses so quickly! Thank you!

Do you love to write?

Does it bring you joy?

Do you find yourself filling your time with other activities but still thinking about writing?

Sounds like you need to write. I would recommend the speech from Sister Act 2 "Letters to a Young Poet."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5CyuMDuEQY

Yes, yes, and yes! Thanks for sharing that video; it was wonderful.

Ask your friends if they mind. 
If you have any dream, no matter how distant of someday making money from your writing then I would think you need to keep only the characters you created or have them sign away their rights.  The first is safer.

Either way Write! if that is what you enjoy.

I'm not planning on making money from it at all, actually! Writing is strictly a hobby (because while I like to do it, I know I'm not very good at it). I think I'm going to take your advice on asking them first, though, so at the very least I won't feel awful every time I sit down and start typing.

just to add - most of the characters in my first novel are based upon people I met at University ...shhhhhhhh..I find that if I base them on real people - and exagerrate somewhat - the characters come ready formed, their speech patterns are already there..makes life easier

All of our main characters were based strictly on us. I know a lot of writing advice is to make sure your character isn't a copy of yourself, but honestly, trying to accurately represent yourself or other people you know well in writing is very difficult. At the very least it makes you aware of your quirks.

You can potentially still use your friends characters if you wish, (I'd ask their permission first) simply by using them as inspiration for your own similar characters, or to create your own versions of them. It wouldn't take much effort for you to do anything more than the kind of 'find and replace' exercise that some people do with existing characters. You could keep elements of one of your friends' characters, but modify them, say swap around a features, characteristics and histories between them, and throw in a few new details. If there's an element of one of their character's you like then keep it, or attribute it to another character. But at the same time you could get rid of aspects you don't like.

That's just the problem! I like all of their characters, and I like how they all play together, but I wouldn't feel comfortable hijacking, tweaking, or even writing someone's character with their permission... though if I'm being honest, I've already started thinking about new OCs to fill roles on the ship/within the crew dynamic that my friends' characters currently occupy (and I'm feeling terrible about it). I think the only solution to get over my guilt is to talk to them, though that spark another conundrum...
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Kensington Locke
Officer
***
United States United States


« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2017, 10:15:36 pm »

You have a lot of different angles to pursue.

The good news is none of these things are show-stoppers.

Keep writing.

Talk to your friends about your desire to continue writing with the characters (all of them) thus far.

You've got easy fallback plans.  Rename the characters.  Rewrite any parts that you didn't write.

Or, start over.

I know it may be shocking to abandon a project, but guess what, they did.  Anybody can.

As a writer, you should have more than 2 songs in you.  So make up something newer.  All that early writing you did, made you a better writer now, so your new thing will be better.

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J. Wilhelm
╬ Admiral und Luftschiffengel ╬
Board Moderator
Immortal
**
United States United States


Sentisne fortunatum punkus? Veni. Diem meum comple


WWW
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2017, 06:03:29 am »

I don't think you should stop writing. But you should circumvent using their characters directly. I'm going to say that it's best to be cautious. I would try not to recycle even their personalities to be honest. No matter how good natured your friends are, and whether you are intending to make money from your writing or not, once you release your text to the public it will gain a life of its own. You can't rule out the text becoming popular or lucrative in the future, and you can't stop one or more of them from recognizing themselves in the text. If one of your friends feels "left out," or oven just "misrepresented," that can cause problems. It's just a matter of predicting human behaviour.
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annevpreussen
Gunner
**
United States United States


Captain Annemarie of the Eagle's Arrow Airship


« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2017, 06:27:19 pm »

Or, start over.

I know it may be shocking to abandon a project, but guess what, they did.  Anybody can.

As a writer, you should have more than 2 songs in you.  So make up something newer.  All that early writing you did, made you a better writer now, so your new thing will be better.

We've actually rebooted this project twice already, when all of us were still working on it. The first time was to make the switch from a cohesive story back to a series of short, one-shot things, and then back to a single story again when we realized our plans were a bit too ambitious for drabbles. But you're very right; I can see how our writing changed over time. Those early pieces were horrendous (I mean, it's not like I'm that much better now but at least I'm not digging through a thesaurus every two seconds to try and make my writing sound fancy enough. I think I read too much Jeter or smthn and just came off sounding like a pompous idiot. For the record, I am still a pompous idiot). Maybe this third restart will be the final one.

And thank you for your kind words. I'm sure everyone wonders if they "peaked early" and it's nice to have a bit of reassurance.

I don't think you should stop writing. But you should circumvent using their characters directly. I'm going to say that it's best to be cautious. I would try not to recycle even their personalities to be honest. No matter how good natured your friends are, and whether you are intending to make money from your writing or not, once you release your text to the public it will gain a life of its own. You can't rule out the text becoming popular or lucrative in the future, and you can't stop one or more of them from recognizing themselves in the text. If one of your friends feels "left out," or oven just "misrepresented," that can cause problems. It's just a matter of predicting human behavior.

I don't think I'm not planning on reusing their characters or even using them for inspiration; if I'm going off on my own, I need to do it myself. And honestly, people feeling left out and misrepresented had already presented its share of problems. We called it "Voodoo Doll-ing" in our group; where someone makes another person's character do something with the sole purpose of getting back at someone in the group. We all agreed not to do it, but it totally happened anyway (and I'm very guilty of this as well, unfortunately). Examples include our weapons master getting pushed off the ship, our navigator giving a long, long speech about how no one would ever love her, our captain (wow, look, it's me -___-) getting sexually assaulted for laughs... yeah, it got kind of nasty, which may be part of the reason passion for the project has died down.

I'm going to take your advice and stay away from using my friends' characters in this new thing.
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MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2017, 07:33:29 pm »

I still write things using my characters from the old Steam London  RP (here on BG in the Portrayal section), along with mentions of other people's characters (Patrick O'Flaherty, His wife, Angel, Emma Lighton, Sir Charles Tayle, etc.) from the original two storylines, and also one character borrowed with permission (Irene Cross), while adding my own characters to act as go-betweens between my long-established characters and other people's (See Between the Threads, in the Textual section, for example). Basically, Between the Threads (call it "BTT" hereafter) is a sort of backstory-gone-wild that was originally to serve as an account of what Dreyfuss and his companions aboard his own Aerial Man o' War the RTAF St. Elmo did since the end of the original Steam London RP and the beginning of the sequel RP, "Realms of Aether." It has since burgeoned into two somewhat-related serial tales, and I plan to keep adding to it slowly, serial-style.

Not necessarily advising that you do the same; BTT could probably only exist on BG, where the two  inspirational RPs occurred. Anywhere else and copyright and ethics would bring it crashing down. But the use of intermediary characters that refer to conversations that they have with the other people's characters, with their permission, preferably, but in some cases such might not be possible; I have no idea how to get in touch with some of the people from Steam London, for example, but I still make references to those  people's characters and interact, so to speak, with those characters through intermediary and already-existing secondary characters, as well as make up my own new characters.
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Walk softly and carry a big banjo...

""quid statis aspicientes in infernum"
annevpreussen
Gunner
**
United States United States


Captain Annemarie of the Eagle's Arrow Airship


« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2017, 05:59:40 pm »

I think I'm going to do something like that! I've been talking to my friends and I think we came up with a pretty good plan. We're kind of going to split up our characters but still have them connected and in the same world. They'll still know each other, and still go on adventures together, but we'll all have more freedom to write when we want if we want instead of waiting for everyone to have time to meet and write together. Once two groups of character share a chapter or two, they can go their separate ways or stay together depending on how much time the authors are willing to put in. And this way we can have other people join us and write! I've talked to a few other friends about it, and some of them apparently have their own steampunk personas; I'm really excited to write with them!

Thank you guys so much for helping me figure this all out!  Cheesy

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Mr. Syson
Officer
***
United Kingdom United Kingdom


« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2017, 09:31:39 pm »

Keep writing. Never stop. Please don't ever get to point in your life where you regret NOT writing the story you always wanted to. I'm now in my mid-fifties and am about to put my first book on Amazon. All sorts of demons and doubts are whirling inside, but it won't stop me inflicting it on you all.
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annevpreussen
Gunner
**
United States United States


Captain Annemarie of the Eagle's Arrow Airship


« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2017, 02:45:45 am »

Keep writing. Never stop. Please don't ever get to point in your life where you regret NOT writing the story you always wanted to. I'm now in my mid-fifties and am about to put my first book on Amazon. All sorts of demons and doubts are whirling inside, but it won't stop me inflicting it on you all.

That's so exciting that you're putting your book up on Amazon! A lot of writers dream of being where you are now. Congratulations!
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