Today we have a very special guest, @elleunchained. She is a writer not a dev, but the dev world needs this.
Let’s start with a process question. Once you decide to write something (book, poem, article…), what does the process look like from initial concept to completion?
For me, this depends on format.
Poetry starts as a single line or idea and grows. I am constantly emailing myself lines that cross my mind and then turning them into something bigger later (sometimes the lines even come together on their own and it’s kind of beautiful). For my current poetry series, unchained, I realized after writing it I was processing grief through my writing, so after it was all written, I divided them into 5 books, one to represent each stage of grief.
My screenplay is semi-autobiographical so it has taken a similar format. It started as a vision almost? This sounds so pretentious but it’s true. My dad passed away in 2021 and I found myself writing my family’s story as a way to process it but it kept coming out in scenes as a screenplay. I put a bunch of ideas into a word document because the scenes would hit me at random times. I would hear a song and know it had to play over a certain scene or add a detail about a character.
It appears that grief plays a big role in my writing but that’s because to me, writing is alchemy. It’s a way to turn negative experiences into beauty and humor and to let other people know that they aren’t alone. It’s our pain that connects us as humans.
When I write non-fiction, however, I do tend to outline the traditional way to an extent and I have several non-fiction books in the works.
Once something is outlined or somehow put together on paper, I have to just kind of rewrite the rest and edit from there. Some things come together really naturally and others take multiple attempts.
Are you able to correctly predict what pieces of your writing will truly connect with readers? Or are you often surprised?
I am very often surprised. I don’t have very much to judge it from other than social media likes, but I find the things I write that I think are really good are often not as popular, but when I write something I question, it really takes off.
What are the biggest misconceptions about being a writer?
For me, I think it’s that we are a monolith. We all write for different reasons and literally anyone could be a writer. Left brain or right brain, introvert or extrovert. I think the crossover we have discovered on threads is a huge testament to that. Creativity comes in many forms and our souls have many different means of expression. (Also not all writers would even consider it soul expression like I do. Some just view it as a skill/craft to be honed like any other).
In your opinion, what is the secret behind the most successful scenes and characters?
There are a lot of cliches about this, like show don’t tell, and then the actual structure of a scene, but to me, the magic lies in the details. I love giving characters and scenes tiny little clues about more of the story, or a character a quirk like snapping the ponytail holder on their wrist compulsively. The kind of shirt someone wears. An item in the room they’re in.
Are you worried about the impact of AI on writers?
Of course, yes, I’m worried about the impact of AI on writers. I don’t want anyone to lose their livelihood and there’s a barrage of self published AI crap coming on the market every day from people trying to make a quick buck. I don’t want studios trying to use AI scripts. I support unions protesting it.
However, I also am a realist and AI is inevitable as is all technological advancement and the idea of trying to stop tech instead of learning how to make it work for us bothers me too.
The reality is that we are going to have a huge change upon us ushered in by AI and it feels sooner than anyone realizes. If we actually work together as a society, we can navigate it so it works to everyone’s advantage. If we stay stuck in fear and simply try to fight the change as many are doing, we are going to be in big trouble.
So in my opinion, and in the context that AI is not going anywhere (and I’m not sure it would be desirable for it to), we need to start envisioning a world where we reconsider what working even looks like and how we even get income.
In a perfect world, there wouldn’t be enough work to go around and that would be such a good thing. People could spend their time creating just for the sake of creating and with that kind of pressure off their, can you imagine the potential we could unlock?
I DREAM of that potential. And if we start looking at it as potential and start looking at our neighbors like brothers and sisters instead of enemies because they watch the wrong news, we can actually make it happen. There are far more of us than the 1%.
This could be done through a variety of economic systems or policies or even voluntarily if we were really smart about it (which would be ideal). That’s why I talk about things like UBI and just like not being aholes to each other as much.
I see this coming and I’ve seen all of this coming for a long time and the solution feels so obvious to me but only a small minority seems to be able to envision it. If we envision it together and work together with all of the brain power we have as a group, we can tackle this problem and make a better world.
So anyways. I will hop off that soapbox but it’s absolutely a vital part of the conversation here and the aspects no one is brave enough to openly discuss.
In the end, I don’t believe AI art will ever replace human art because you can feel soul in art. But until the craze wears off, I worry that we need to protect artists.
That ended up being a much longer rant than I anticipated but it’s important.
How can people find you elsewhere online?
Elleunchained on all social media and eventually Elleunchained.com. Thanks so much for having me!
Read the full interview on Threads: @ryan.swanstrom • Threads Dev Interview #30 I am finding developers on Threads and interviewing them, right here on… • Threads