Thursday, October 7, 2010

Destroying alien invaders with Snowflakes!

Art by Sam Little
Well...I suppose well-placed kicks work just as well, but I wanted to post a bit on my progress toward creating a better story for "Doc Monster: Shadow of the Skies".  You see, I consider myself primarily to be an artist.  This presumption often brings me great disappointment when I see the end result of my artistic efforts, but nonetheless, I felt my strength lay primarily in art, not in writing.

So, I decided to do my best to remedy that situation by digging through any writing tips I could find on the interwebs. 

Oh, and I found plenty of tips, my friends...but here's my problem.  I don't like the idea of having every single panel of every single page scripted out for me.  You see, given that I work a full-time job to support my nasty comic habit, I have roughly 2 hours each evening (more on the weekends) to work on my craft...which is pretty labor-intensive.  I might be able to complete a normal comic-sized page a week if no problems appear.  How many pages does the average graphic novel contain, you may ask?  Well, from what I've read, anywhere from 64 to 164.  So, assuming that I encounter no problems at all and am in perfect health for the duration of my work on the Doc Monster project, I can look forward to a year and a half to just over three years to complete it. 

Yeah.  I mean, I like reading books...I read all of the time...but reading the same book for three years would get tiring to even me.  So, I want to leave the individual pages as something to figure out on the fly. 
Still, I need structure.....and I wanted this thing to be more like a novel in it's process than a comic script....which is more like "Page 1: Panel 1.  Doc Monster and Carson Clay are playing rollerball.  CLAY: 'This is stupid, Doc.  I hate rollerball!' ".  Everything is mapped out, with nothing left to do for 3 years than to draw panels.  Boring.

So, instead, I started looking for something that would help me bring structure to the story...major crisis points, set character motivation, that sort of thing.  So, I found the Snowflake method of writing in this cool article by Randy Ingermanson.  EXACTLY what I was looking for.  If you're interested in any sort of writing and are looking for structure, I recommend it.

Last night, I started the process....developing a sentence that summed up the entire story in less than 15 words (man...that was TOUGH), followed by a paragraph that is along the lines of what you'd read on the back of the book.  In particular, I loved the ideas Randy gave of developing a story by "three disasters and an end"...meaning that there's the first crisis for the hero, followed by two, progressively worse incidents (typically caused by the hero trying to fix things) before the end where the story resolves itself.  That idea ALONE gave me a much better sense of how to structure the book, and made me pretty excited.

So, stay tuned as we go along and I'll try to blog about the whole experience.  If you've got insights or comments on the process...I'd love to hear them!
-Dave

2 comments:

Bonnie said...

That is the sort of thing that Ken Follett suggests doing. Since Mr. Follett is one of my favorite authors, I was interested in what he had to say in the section on his webpage called Masterclass. He kindly personally answered a question that I sent to him as I contemplate this question of whether I want to tackle writing fiction. I guess I always thought of a graphic novel as being a novel with art, primarily story driven.

Dave_Flora said...

I've never read anything by Mr. Follett...can you recommend a book? I've been fortunate to have contact will all kinds of writers and artists that I admire, and for the most part, they are humble, very personable people who are genuinely interested in answering questions. It just goes to show you that writers are ordinary people...just like you and me. If you're wondering if you should be writing...then you should write! Better to try and to suck at it than to have never known what it was like. Also, remember that successful authors like Mr. Follett have been at it for years...persistance is pretty much key to anything, in my opinion..
-Dave