Discussion Stepping outside the comfort zone

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by moosemousse, Sep 18, 2009.

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  1. moosemousse

    moosemousse CR Emeritus: FF-UK South star 6

    Oct 3, 2004
    Looking back at my fics I notice that most of them are about Jedi, Force users, or bounty hunters. So I guess it's fair to say that Jedi and bounty hunters are my comfort zone. It's a nice comfort zone though, there are periods where you can do anything you want with a Jedi and not have to worry about continuity, and I guess the same goes for bounty hunters too. The problem is, it gets a bit boring. As much as I'd like to write about something else, I don't have a clue what to write about.

    Does anyone else have a problem with stepping out of the comfort zone and tackling something new? Have you tried and succeeded? If so, how did you do it?

    Maybe I can fix up a challenge or something later.
  2. Robimus

    Robimus Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Jul 6, 2007
    I've tried to mix up what I've written thus far for these forums, but it always still ties to my interests.

    For my first "epic" I really wanted to do two things in creating my own little world and timeframe within the Imperial Remnant, so I've really focused on those things in that story. No Force Users, no Alliance heroes, just a real gray slate where the difference between right and wrong often becomes muddled and complex.

    My second "Epic" I decided to go in a completely different direction, still heavily linking to my own interests. I've always written about the Empire so I made a choice to avoid the Empire in my second Fic and headed outside my comfort zone a little.

    I decided to write canon characters in that one, something I've done very little of ever as usually my "canon" characters only get cameos, and its presented an interesting challenge that I've enjoyed. My heroes and villians are very black and white in the second story, something I admit I've never really done before in writing sympathetic Imperials.

    For my third "epic" which I'm started on but have not posted yet I decided to mix things up a bit again and write about an Intergalactic Garbage man in an era I've never really written in before....go figure. Part of my character selection revolves around the idea of challenge of writing this OC, the Garbage Man, and finding a way to make him every bit as interesting as the Jedi, Imperials and Aliens I enjoy on a more regular basis.

    I don't know if I'll succeed but I thought it would be worth a try just to shake things up a little.:)
  3. CloneUncleOwen

    CloneUncleOwen Jedi Master star 4

    Jul 30, 2009
    Some of the finest writers in the world have the same problem you're experiencing,
    yet they have the additional problem of a publisher and fan base that expect them
    to keep writing more of the same. They usually try another genre or character set
    writing pseudonymously, and if it proves popular, their publisher 'leaks' the author's
    identity to boost sales (think Anne Rice, Stephen King).

    I break out of the 'comfort zone' by blunt force trauma. I choose a genre or character
    set I normally abhor and despise, then learn everything I can about it. I try writing
    a few short, even formulaic, stories. If it works out, fine. If it fails, I've usually
    picked up enough new ideas, perspectives and information to revitalize my old, worn
    stomping grounds. Sometimes I find I'm better at writing the material I loathe than
    the 'stuff' I would prefer. Doing something this difficult makes changing your normal
    tack a few degrees much easier.

    Try it. If it doesn't catch, make a paper airplane out of your story and torment the
    cat with it. Doesn't improve your writing, though. Just your aim.
  4. Jedi_Liz

    Jedi_Liz Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Apr 24, 2000
    a few years ago I wrote an Anakin/Padme story (with help from VaderLVR as my cowriter). I usually write L/M stories so it was new to me. Is this what you mean? :p
  5. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Chosen One star 9

    Mar 26, 2001
    One of my most difficult projects has been writing Wife of Deceit because I have set almost all of my fics in multiple perspectives. Writing something with that limitation has been a challenge. I also had a great deal of difficulty writing humor at first.
  6. Lilith Demodae

    Lilith Demodae Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Oct 1, 1999
    Ish, my first try at the first person perspective was rough, too, but you did a great job on that one.

    I do have a comfort zone. It's action. I love writing action. I don't particularly care where or when it's set. I'm terrible at the mushy stuff. I do, however, try to find less explored areas of the SW universe to set my stories in.
  7. leiamoody

    leiamoody Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 8, 2005
    I'm firmly ensconced in my AU-that-isn't-EU, and writing stories that aren't terribly complex in terms of plot. I also tend to write in third person limited, but I broke that mold by writing something for the diary challenge (which obviously requires the first person perspective). I'm in a mighty bad rut at the moment, because I feel stifled as a writer. I haven't challenged myself, and I really hate that I've limited myself to what feels safe.
  8. ardavenport

    ardavenport Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Dec 16, 2004
    I found one way of trying out a different writing style .......write in a different fandom.

    The style I wanted to try out came from one bit of advice from Micheal Stackpole at the one workshop I managed to get to. It was to eliminate all versions of 'he said', 'she said'. I didn't really want to do that to any of the SW fics I have going, but I've lately tried my hand at writing Emergency! fanfic. Yeah, it's cheesy, it's the 70's, but it was the perfect for trying out that style. You never really appreciate a different writing style until you force yourself to do it.

    Y'know what I found out? Various versions of 'he said', 'she said' can add a lot to a story's description. They're definitely not a waste of time. 'He whined', 'she yelled', 'he mumbled', 'she shrieked' work very well.

    However, if you take them out, you are forced into adding more description of what people are doing during the conversation so you can tell who's talking. Very interesting development.

  9. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Chosen One star 9

    Mar 26, 2001
    Ooh, that's a good idea. And writing in a different fandom is definitely a good comfort-zone escaper. Certainly is for me venturing into Doctor Who.
    Jedi Knight Fett likes this.
  10. Jedi Trace

    Jedi Trace SouthEast RSA star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Dec 15, 1999
    I actually like stepping out of my comfort zone, but it?s not always comfortable, lol. Challenges are good for this, IMHO. Pick a challenge and then pick a character or era you?ve never written before and just type away. Chances are, if it?s the first time you?ve written the character/era, it won?t be anything award-winning, but you will have punched through that wall and that?s what counts. Don?t be afraid to take chances or write something that might be terrible. To quote the great John Ostrander: ?You have to write the crap out of your system.? And the only way to do that is to WRITE. [face_peace]

  11. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Chosen One star 9

    Mar 26, 2001
    I had a choir director who required us to keep a journal of our comfort-zone departures. We were a choir of 200 white people, two Latinos and three Asians singing a few African-American spirituals and he wanted us to do anything from singing karaoke to asking out that cute guy in our building.
    Jedi Knight Fett likes this.
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