Over on my Tumblr, I have reblogged several 'Fanfic Writer Questions' and answered for fanfictions I've done in other fandoms, so I thought it might be fun to do the same for the Barlow's Music Shop stories too. If you have any other questions for me which you would like to ask, then feel free to leave a comment or review in my inbox over at the Ask For Assistance page. If you would like to talk about or comment on a specific story or scene, then you can put that down in the contact form and I can give you the full 'DVD commentary' treatment for that piece of writing, but I'm also open to more practical questions about using the site or even about the playlists - you can ask me anything! I'd love to hear from you! Malinda.x
Describe your writing space.
Favourite time of day for writing?
Do you listen to music when you write?
Do your characters always do as they're told?
Do you enjoy making your characters suffer?
Do you write your stories from start to finish or do you write scenes out of order?
Do you plan a whole story out or make it up as you go along?
How many times do you revise something before posting it?
How did you come up with the idea for this AU?
Did anything about the response to this fic surprise you?
How would you sum up this fic series in a sentence?
If you could choose one story to be filmed, which would it be?
Have you ever had a review that's made your day?
I'm lucky enough to have a desk in my bedroom, so my writing space is pretty much perfect as I have the option to change it up and switch between being cozy or serious, depending on my mood, without too much upheaval! My bedroom is full of trinkets, candles, photos, posters, fairylights - all sorts of things which I can look at or change around to help relax me or inspire me. I have my notebooks all lined up in the corner of my desk so I can easily get at any notes, scribbles or references I might need. Everything is also in shades of purple, pink and grey and it all matches, and as crazy as that sounds, I find that really calming and it definitely helps me focus!
Easily the night time. There's something about that window between midnight and two in the morning that I find really inspiring - especially on rainy or windy nights. I can't focus well during the day - too many distractions for a start, but also I usually have to work during the day.
It depends what I'm writing, but, as you will have guessed from the playlists on this website, music does play a huge part in my writing process. Every story I write will have a playlist designed to match its tone and mood, and some scenes will literally have a soundtrack in my head, but sometimes if I'm struggling with a scene or if I'm finding it hard to concentrate in general, I will turn off my music and write in as quiet a room as possible.
Definitely not! Characters of mine are always getting their own ideas, doing and saying things and reacting in ways that I don't plan - sometimes whole tangents have stemmed from an idea that I swear is all the character's and not my own! I usually find it best to just run with these tangents though, and sometimes they have been known to be some of my favourite parts of a story or the parts people respond to the most. So basically, my characters know best what they should be doing, so I let them go for it!
For sure! But that is at least partly because you don't really have a plot unless you make them suffer anyway - you have to have conflict and struggles in a longer story otherwise people would get bored. All the same, I do enjoy pushing my characters to the limit of what they can take in terms of angst! I think the more I like a character, the more I put them through, bizarrely.
I get too confused and anxious about forgetting to link things up properly to be able to write scenes out of order - if I sit down to seriously write a story then I will be writing it start to finish, in order, no question. That said, I do get ideas for later scenes, and sometimes my stories will be inspired by an idea I have for a specific scene or moment that's from later on in the plot. I have plans written out which I try to stick to, so that means I will often take vague notes or scribble bits of dialogue down completely out of order in whatever notebook I'm using for the story, but not write them out or think about them too seriously until I get to that point in the story.
As you will have gathered from my previous answer, I'm a list-writing, note-taking pre-planner all the way. I have notebooks filled with bullet points and notes split into sections and all of that. I have to know what I'm doing with a story start to finish before I start writing; it's fluid, and I can change things as I go along, but I like having the plans there to guide me anyway because they break things down and make them seem more manageable and achievable instead of it all being seemingly endless and overwhelming.
Usually once or twice - but I'm a terrible one for never really stopping editing. I might walk away from a piece for a really long amount of time, but then something will remind me of a story and I'll go and read it back and just start changing things as I go. You're always learning new things in terms of your writing style and all that, so when you go back to something after a long time, there's things you've learnt since you wrote it which you know would make it a better story if you took the time to put them in there.
Part of it was from the fact that I spent a lot of time growing up being taken to really cute little second-hand bookshops, so I had that image in my head really strongly. But as to why I linked that up with Take That I don't really know. I can actually quote the Livejournal entry where I first talked about the idea: "“I'm not sure it works. It's like...Jason works in a slightly old fashioned-y music store (random but bear with me!) and it's Gary's shop (so yeah, no less random) and Howard meets him and they fall for each other. But I don't know how to get Mark into it yet...” And somehow - somehow - that was when Barlow's was born, all thanks to one person (a person who I now count as a dear, dear friend of mine who has helped with all these stories and many more) commenting back and saying she could completely see it and would definitely read a story about the lads in an old music shop!
I think the thing that has surprised me the most is just how warmly people have taken to this fic - I find it so touching how many people who have recommended it and how many people tell me it's one of their favourite stories and that they come back and reread it. I really appreciate it, because I know often the AUs aren't so popular and people are sort of buying into more than just a normal fanfiction when they decide to go for it and read this story, and I just am so overwhelmed and grateful at how many people have gone for it and really taken this universe to heart.
That's so difficult, given how many stories there are now. I think I would maybe go with: four men find love, friendship, music and misadventure in a small, old music shop on Oldham Street. Although I would maybe have to add a clause that there are occasionally five men instead!
I suppose logically I should say the first one - Four Men And A Dusty Piano - so that people could see how it all began more clearly! But it's hard to choose, because the way I write, I sort of see them all very cinematic-ly in my head. I mean really, to the point where I know about lighting, camera angles, soundtrack, staging, filler shots, opening credits and end credits, all of it. I think maybe the most visually cool one to be filmed would be Just Raindrops, I think that would work really well in a film format and the lighting and setting of that in the rain is all very dramatic which would work well too.
Honestly, every review I receive makes my day and makes me smile, and it reinspires me sometimes too just to see someone take the time to leave a comment, no matter how small. I do love when people have told me they reread these stories and when someone says they've recommended them to others or that they were recommended by others because I think wanting to relive and to share a story is the ultimate compliment you can pay it and it really touches me to think something I wrote could ever be something to share and reread to someone because I know how much the stories I reread and share mean to me personally. But really, honestly, anyone who reviews makes my day because that's the sweetest thing you can do for any writer is care enough about something they've written to to tell them even just 'hi, I read it'. Reviewers are all heroes.