I’m going to come clean. While I don’t exactly write fanfiction, I have admitted I share stories online. What I do is write a story I illustrate with The Sims 3.

I’ve mentioned it, but kept quiet about it mostly because it doesn’t seem like the sort of thing that is done. I’m planning on releasing a book about a story I’ve released for free and plan on continuing releasing for free, but I always figured that I would come clean on both ends. So why not now?

This was prompted by This post by Cooper West titled “Everything I know about marketing I learned from Fandom.” And it was also inspired by my friend Karyn Gerrard who came clean about her writing process using Sims 2 for her upcoming book Timeless Heart.

What I have learned over the course of two years of regular updates.

  1. Consistency, consistency, consistency! I update once a week, no matter if I think it’s good or bad. And you know what, even if I hate it, people like it.
  2. Just write. I used to wait for inspiration to hit me, but now I have a bag full of tricks. The main one is just sitting down to write, even if I am just going to write about what I want to write that day. And my writing is better for it.
  3. You really can’t tell what people will like. You also can’t tell what people will draw out of a piece until it’s written. Though with all the sharing online I’ve done, I do think I’ve got a better grasp on the details people do notice which helps me as a storyteller overall.
  4. Stay positive. This is just something I’ve learned from working with stories online over more than three years. It’s very simple. A smile and a laugh are like honey and always draw more people to you than worrying about how many comments you are or aren’t getting on your story.
  5. Be supportive. I regularly comment on stories I enjoy so that they know it. I may fall behind, but I always come back and leave a comment. It’s the same with blogs now on this end of the spectrum, and it’s really becoming the same with Twitter.
  6. Patience. It took a long time for me to get readers. I started out with two who came over from another blog actually revolving around game play. Both are still very good friends of mine who seem to believe in me even if I don’t always.
  7. The most important marketing tool is word of mouth. This is a combination of all the prior lessons. First off, it took patience as word got out. And word got out because I was supportive and positive. People were willing to recommend my stories or would mention my stories on their own blogs which helped me find readers and friends. Plus, because I update consistently, people know they can count on me to not disappear without warning.

There are also plenty of things I’ve learned about myself while doing this. See my strengths and weaknesses. But the most important thing I’ve learned is that a story doesn’t live until it’s in the hand of someone else. I may have fun writing it, but I have more fun discussing it with other people who become as invested as I am. A lot of the time, I get surprised by things that make sense, but I never thought about. And all of my readers are beta readers in a sense. Because if something isn’t clear, they’re going to ask, and if they have to ask then I know I screwed up. They probably don’t even realize they’re gently helping me refine my storytelling style.

But the most important lesson I learned from all this is that we have to be willing to accept the type of writer we are. I don’t know why, but for the longest time, I refused to accept my own writing as something that might have merit. Maybe that’s the real reason I fear sharing the link? Not because I use a game to make pictures for it, but because I’m still hiding it when I shouldn’t. I’m quite proud of what I’ve done with it so far, and I will be doing it more justice with the current project once it’s out.

So here they are. My main story blog is called Ruin. That’s going to be the name of the book series as well. Though I’ve been working on the blog for a while now, I’ve only got two stories on it so far. The first was the short story Michael and Edith which started it all. The second, which I have just finished this week, is Paula’s story. It’s 40 some chapters plus two “intermissions” (which are two other short stories tossed in) and really the rough draft of my novel, so please forgive the sometimes sloppy writing but I hope you enjoy the pictures. 🙂