About this blog

Hi there! My name is Viktoria, and I'm a native Russian speaker, dividing her time between Saint-Petersburg, Omsk and Moscow. I love many things, and writing is amongst them. Not only I love writing in Russian, I want to learn how to write fiction literature in English. Also I plan to move to New Zealand on August 15 (2013) so English will soon become my main language of interaction. Therefore, this blog.

I'll try to write daily a little something about moving to New Zealand, and also about writing. Feel free to tell me when I make mistakes. I mean it! :-)

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Building a dictionary

One piece of advice for writers I hear constantly is: "build your own vocabulary by writing down words you like and want to use in future". Who am I to argue?

These are the words for today (I know most of them, but I keep forgetting them. And some words are completely new):
1. colloquial
2. resigned
3. to devise
4. booby traps
5. wistful
6. to irk
7. enquire

8. sycophantic
9. haberdashery
10. vehemence
11. ineffable
12. insouciant
13. ennui
14. winsome

And of course THIS:
15. pulchritudinous

Main conflict: love vs freedom

I'm naming the boy James. This I decided. But I cannot choose a name for my guy. Originally it was Anko, Simadzu Anko, as in "Ank", Egyptian cross symbolizing life, and yes, that was relevant for the story. But now... I just don't know. Names are important for me. I'm thinking, maybe, Richard or Alexander... but that is still undecided.

Anyway, I promised to tell you about the conflict in the story and why is it important for me (i.e. why I want to write about it at all). My main theme has always been relationships: between humans, between a human and himself, and between a human and society. I am conflicted myself in this area, there are so many questions I still don't know how to answer, and human beings are so complicated and different, and they always react some unexpected way... and one of the most important questions for me is: love vs freedom.

Love is a beautiful thing: to have someone to care about and be cared in return, to connect to someone - this I consider a true happiness. But on the other hand: when you are in a relationship, you have to give up on a part of your freedom. And I don't only talk about romantic love. When you love someone, you give him your time and a place in your life. When you are alone you can do what you want: pick a flight and go to another country, watch TV all weekend, eat crazy food, work on your dream job for fifteen hours a day, and  so on, and so on. When you are not alone, you need to include other person in everything you do. You cannot set relationship on pause, stop talking to your spouse or your kid for a week, and then pick up like nothing happend. I love this freedom. I love to disappear sometimes, to know that I can change a job, a town or country any time I want, that I can spend days being lazy, etc.. But I want kids. I want family. So this is the conflict: how do you balance these things if you truly need both of them?

Of course, I'm not the first to ask this question. But it's one of those questions that you can only answer for yourself and for a small group of people like you. And this is the main conflict in my future story.

My Richard-Alexander guy is 27, he is a single IT guy and a geek. He isn't very sociable, but he isn't socially akward too, though he was in his teens. Not ugly, but not beautiful. Not a genius, but not dumb. Just an ordinary guy, who is used to living alone and having his life for himself aside from time to time family obligations. And then the kid happens. Richard-Alexander doesn't hate kids, he even thought about having his own in the future, after meeting the love of his life... but that's a completely different story, because now he gets a twelve years old boy, and he supposed to instantly know how to be a father. Unless he wants to give kid to adoption or send him to some private school, so he wouldn't need to getting know him. Anyway, he need to adjust his life to this new circumstances, and he will explore himself in the process (and so will I).

James is, obviously, the other side of this story. He lost his mother, and he doesn't really have anyone now (details revealed in the story) except of this new "father" guy, few friends, and maybe a teacher or two who care about him. And he is a teenager too. He starts at not trusting Richard-Alexander, and being polite and closed up because - hey, he depends on that adult! He doesn't want to really piss him off and be sent away or beaten up. He doesn't know the guy. He is just a kid. It's hard for him.
I consider children intelligent human beings from the age of two (maybe earlier). They already have their thoughts and dreams at that age, they have fears and interests, likes and dislikes. And a twelve years old is a very capable and complicated person. I remember myself being a child and always being pushed aside as "she's just a kid, what does she know?". I also have two younger brothers. I know kids. I am actually good with them when I have a chance. It's very upsetting that adults rarely take children seriously, and I want to show it in the story.

And of course there would be bumps and failures for these two. That's what conflict means. But I promise they will get through.

I really like the story already, and I keep thinking about it, so I hope very much that I would be able to write it. Wish me luck (and to stop being the lazy ass I am)?

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

A story to tell

Yesterday I couldn't fall asleep for few hours. So I used that time to think, and amongst many thoughts was this one: I actually have a story that I can use to improve my writing skills! Few years ago I used to play in textual role playing games. To play such a game you need a character. And one of my beloved characters was never fully used in a game, so his story is left untold. Shame on me! But I can try and fix it now.

This is a story about a young father and a son who he hadn't known about until a mother of the boy contacted him six month before dying. Originally the man was a police officer in Japan (for purposes of the game), but I think I'll move the story to USA. I thought about moving it to Russia, but realized that if I do this, I wouldn't be able to concentrate on the characters, because in Russia there is so much hatred and everyday survival, I would need to spare time for those if I want to be realistic. And I know USA from tv-shows (haha! yeah, I know).

I'll proceed as following:
1) thinking through characters really hard - I need to know who they are when the story begins, and why are they like this;
2) writing a draft (for a main plot, for specific scenes);
3) reading "how to write" manuals, going through dictionaries, general reading, etc.;
4) rewriting to improve the text;
5) repeating from step (2) unless the story is finished.

In the next post I will explain the conflict of the story and why is it interesting for me.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Books to read

I've recently decided that I need to read less fanfiction and more "real" literature. The reason is simple: I want to learn proper English, and fanfiction rarely provides one. Don't get me wrong: I LOVE fanfiction, and it is often much better written than what I see on shelves in bookstores. But still, there are really good books in English out there, and I need to get knowing them.

My number one is currently "Little women". I've read it in August and loved it instantly. I think it's a perfect book: it got characters, it got story, it got humor, and it is beautifully written. So I'm gonna read it again, this time paying attention to details and to a text structure.

I remember that I loved "Howl's moving castle" a year or two ago, so I'm gonna read more books written by Diana Jones. Also I probably need to give another chance to Terry Pratchett (yeah, I didn't like him in Russian, sue me! Too flat for me. I love Duglas Adams and Robert Asprin, their humor seems deeper than word games from sir Pratchett). Also for the last two years I wanted to read whole Harry Potter series in English (I'm not that big of a fan, but hey, it's a meta-thing now, and translation into Russian is one of the worst in the world, as I heard. And I loved first book in English more than I loved it in Russian). Oh, and my former boss recommended me Chuk Palanic's books a long time ago as a sample of proficient language usage.

The books list so far:
1. "Little women" by Louisa May Alcott
2. books of Diana Jones
3. "Harry Potter" by J.K. Rowling
4. any book of Terry Pratchett
5. "Fight club" by Chuk Palanic
6. "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" by Roald Dahl


These are the resources I found useful for improving writing skills:
1. http://www.write-better-english.com/
2. http://www.dailywritingtips.com/
3. http://www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com/

There are plenty more, so this list will be updated (if I'm not too lazy).

I said: "let there be a post." And there was a post

I've been a blogger for over 8 years now, since my first year in university, but this would be my first entirely-English blog. If it survives. I hope it survives. I'm gonna need all practice in English I can get before I change my country of residence. So I'm gonna yell in the void here (yes, this is "The unusuals" reference, because I'm a geek like that) until someone maybe comes and says "Hi". :-)

My current level of English is IELTS 7.5 (good reading and listening, bad writing and speaking). Mostly I learned English by watching movies/tv-shows and by reading fanfiction. The result is I can understand most of accents, and I recognise collo... oh no, I just read this word like 2 hours ago, and now I can neither remember it, nor find it in a dictionary. I recognise slang is what I wanted to say. But I'm really bad in writing slang down, in punctuation in general (never learned it until yesterday!), in using phrases where they are appropriate (i.e. not using Baltimore drug dealers style which I know from "The Wire" in a fluffy love fiction). Also, my active vocabulary is pathetic. And this isn't a full list of my writing flaws, so now I'm going to use a minute for being sad.

Okay, minute gone.

I am not a professional writer in Russian, but I dare to say my Russian is pretty good. Not genius-good, and if I were to publish my works, I would certainly need both a corrector and an editor, but I have style. And I can copy styles. So, pretty good. I want to achieve the same level in English.

My first attempts of writing fanfiction in English are published on ao3 (under hali) and on ff.net (under hali4qa):

I really like what I did with characters in "What goes with trust"/"He goes with trust" dilogy. Be aware, this is an M/M slash fiction for "Criminal minds".