I’ve read about your background in games, and I was wondering how that interacted with your writing. Did you learn anything about characterization or plotting? Did working on games influence your writing?
Absolutely. Games — and working on Neverwinter Nights specifically — really influenced my approach to plotting and to structure specifically. I’d been writing short vignettes of fan fiction for about 10 years, just for fun, when I had a computer science assignment that I wanted to procrastinate on, I’d dash off a little fanfic story. For me, a long story was like 3,000 words. I’d be very impressed when I wrote something that long. And after working on Neverwinter Nights, sort of thinking about on a higher level, taking a step back and thinking about “how do you structure a large narrative so you can hang off more side plots in a way that you need to in order to create, for instance, 30 hours of game play for the average player?” That question really changed my approach to writing, because I started thinking about stories the same way that I thought about the plot. And after that I started writing considerably longer and considerably more plot-y stories, and soon after that I wrote “Temeraire.”
Tell me about the Organization for Transformative Works.
The OTW is now in its third year and we’re very proud of the stuff we’ve put together. Our goal is to support fan creators. There’s a lot of confusion, a lot of misunderstanding about what fan creators typically want. Our organization is very specifically trying to protect noncommercial fan creators who basically are creating out of love in a community to share with one another, to share the things that excite them. Basically, to respond to the text. And so we put together an archive of fan fiction online, the Archive of Our Own, and we’re building this with a team of mostly internally trained programmers, almost all women, which is very rare for an open-source project. I’m not positive about this, but we’re one of the largest group of women on any open source project. We’ve also worked closely with the ESF to put together a best-use guide for vidders, people who post fan videos, for instance, on YouTube. There’s a lot of paranoia about copyright these days and a lot of times fan creators get hit by copyright measures that are intended to prevent piracy, which are too large and too broad and end up hitting people’s free speech and fair use rights. This isn’t the case in Japan, where gujinshi, where you see gujinshi being sold in stores right next to the manga that inspired them.
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