- Tue, 12:12: RT @Frezarion: Photo: cutlerish: This is, by far, the best of this type of joke that exists. http://t.co/hFjUBemkd7
- Tue, 12:13: *faxes @Inkblitzer some insurance*
- Tue, 12:15: I get paid a lump sum every time you steal my hat. *nods* //RT @Inkblitzer: I think @the_gneech is trying to sell me hat insurance.
- Tue, 12:16: Cha-CHING baby! // RT @Inkblitzer: *eyeshifts left, eyeshifts right, steals @the_gneech's hat* *jauntily worn*
- Tue, 12:25: Time to Lay "The Selfish Gene" to Rest: http://t.co/h18MwrbDcM
- Tue, 12:31: RT @feministallies: White Hot Rage http://t.co/NBGvhiL9sB
- Tue, 12:40: #TMITuesday: I have hair.
- Tue, 13:22: Followup Thought on Comics and Stuff Generally http://t.co/5tSii2ZYYL
- Tue, 13:22: RT @thegizwiz: Suppose Amazon delivers by drone. If u BUY a drone, do they send a drone carrying a drone? Or 1 with a note "This is the 1 u…
- Tue, 13:30: Hey, old germ of an idea I never did anything with? C'mon, we're headed over to Google docs for some brainstorming.
Back in 2006, when SJ was coming to a close and I was looking at the whole writing thing, I invested in a copy of Dramatica Pro, a piece of software that hails itself as “the ultimate creative writing partner.” I banged around with it some then, with mixed results… and by “mixed” I mean “not very much in the way of useful.” I did write a lot of stuff– 1200 words detailing the childhood of a character who ended up being cut from the book for instance. Oops. But I didn’t get much actual story from it all, among other things because I kept getting hung up on all the jargon the program was throwing at me.
The software, you see, is based on the “dramatica theory” of storytelling, which is a slippery hodgepodge of narrative structure and pop psychology meant to appeal to the kind of writers who think The Hero of 1,000 Faces is the One True Book of Writing.  So to get the most use out of the software, you have to A) understand, and B) buy into the whole dramatica model, which treats characters as “types” and lays out all stories as an interplay of relationships between those types (and gives you the prescribed “right answer” for said relationships). It’s all very abstract, which it would kinda have to be as a unified field theory of plot, and at the same time comes off as a straitjacket. “If your protagonist is a Perceptive type, then the opposing concept is Fate.” That kind of thing.
As far as the actual plotting of the story goes, it seems to mostly be a modified snowflake method, starting with a one-sentence tag line, expanding to a one paragraph synopsis, and so on. However, I never actually got that far using Dramatica Pro because I always got bogged down in the character section, trying to shoehorn one character into the “Impact Character” role, another into the “Guardian” role, etc. Instead of just a relatively simple list of who the characters are and what they’re about, mapping the characters to the various types is supposed to show how they relate to each other later, guiding the story structure and blah blah blaaaahhh forget it.
So for now at least, I’m sticking with the snowflake method. It worked pretty well for my NaNoWriMo novel, I just need to get better at thinking in terms of more “novel-length” stories.
 For the record, The Hero of 1,000 Faces is a great book and has a lot of useful insight. But it’s a scholarly study of world mythology, you’re not supposed to use it as a paint-by-numbers formula for screenplays, everyone in Hollywood. ¬.¬
Anyway, as I was mulling around with the issue of "What kind of comic would I want to do?" it occurred to me that part of the problem is the same thing I was getting at about lacking in enthusiasm-- specifically, I have in the past always tried to write the book I wanted to read, or draw the comic I wanted to see... but lately my give-a-damn is so broken that I can't think of what it is that would fulfill that criteria. It's like there's no story, comic, or piece of art that moves me so much, that it would be worth all the fighting and struggle to get it created.
This is not a good place for a creator to be. :P Passion is the fuel that makes story creation happen, 'cos goodness knows it ain't the money. So the big question becomes, how can I get back to that place where I'm crazy excited for things again? The weekend before last proved that it can happen, the tricky part is finding a way to get myself there, and keep myself there.
On the other hand, recognizing that this is the issue, hopefully will at least point me in the right direction. Knowing is half the battle, right Joe?
- Current Location:The Hobbit Hole
- Current Mood: contemplative
- Mon, 13:02: #InkyGirl says "I must go, my pwanet needs meh." http://t.co/5bJsX9iYie
- Mon, 14:09: Time for some @mangastudio EX 5 tutorials, bay-bee!
- Mon, 14:55: Aaaand @mangastudio changed how frames work again. Does that ever stay consistent between versions? XD
- Tue, 07:57: Lions are not made for cold weather. But they know what to do about it! http://t.co/GJ6gAPrYQX
- Tue, 08:06: Learing a ton o' stuff about @mangastudio 5, and so far I'm loving it. The one thing it can't do: make me a better artist. >.>
- Tue, 09:34: RT @RebelsHeart: Things no one wants to hear from IT: The problem is outside our control. Things no one ever believes from IT: see previous.
- Tue, 09:46: #Dasher and #InkyGirl sleeping cutely for @UrsulaV http://t.co/BRpHjYLFHi
- Tue, 09:59: On Comics, and What I Want to Do With Them http://t.co/5xZ0xVtHQf
- Tue, 11:08: Who says bats can't be cute? http://t.co/C25XuLrRVk
- Tue, 11:50: That reminds me, I need to find an MP3 of "The Ribbit March."
...But... what comics?
I periodically get people wanting more Suburban Jungle and, while I'm glad they like it so much, that story is finished. I mean, yes, I do know more stuff that happens to the characters: Tiff and Leonard move to the Pacific Northwest and have a liger son named Louis. Dover and Comfort have a pair of bouncing baby cheeger twins who are just about as much trouble as you might imagine. Drezzer eventually moves from photography into being a television producer and also does eventually find a permanent partner in the form of the leopard that drove a wedge between himself and Colin all those years ago (go fig). And so on. So yes, more stuff does happen, but it's not really a story, just a sequence of events.
I miss the fun energy of telling that kind of a story, tho. I have tried multiple times to come up with exciting adventure comics, with varying levels of success. Most were stymied by the sheer lack of time I had to work on them, and now that I've got the time, there's a definite problem of "time-to-returns" issue. Comics take a long time to draw, and don't make a lot of money. When I was doing Suburban Jungle, my goal was to make it pay for itself, which it did, but not much more. Now that I've "gone professional," I need to make what I'm doing pay the bills as well, and that's a much higher bar to reach. As evidenced by NaNoWriMo, I can probably crank out two or three novels a year. Comics, on the other hand, I don't know if I could produce the kind of volume I would need (and generate the sort of sales I'd need to generate) to get as much bang for my buck.
Dunno, I'll keep mulling over the issue. There's no escaping the fact that so many of the things that were my early inspirations have run their course. As I've said elsewhere, I couldn't just sit down and create Suburban Jungle today, because the world is a different place than it was in 1999, and I'm a very different person than I was then. The question now is, what do I create with the Me of Now, for the World of Today?
- Current Location:The Hobbit Hole
- Current Mood: contemplative
- Current Music:Jazz Butcher -- "Road Runner"
- Sun, 13:36: Learning From My Trial By Fire: @NaNoWriMo 2013 http://t.co/XpOWgaYrgk
- Sun, 13:37: Learning From My Trial By Fire: @NaNoWriMo 2013: http://t.co/kGjYTqFoJs
- Sun, 13:48: #Buddha and #InkyGirl providing your daily allowance of d'awww... http://t.co/5GCVQRdmOu
- Sun, 13:58: RT @bioswoof: #furfright website will be addressing its current state. Currently working on a new look and name with the same integrity for…
- Sun, 14:10: .@foalpapers confirmed as Rarity.
- Sun, 21:10: RT @RyanWalkinshaw: This is my new favourite story, maybe the best story ever told about laziness... http://t.co/21J7QLVZ1D
- Sun, 21:33: For those of you who've enjoyed my Ponies vs. Daleks print series, they're coming back in December!
- Sun, 21:43: New Bruce. http://t.co/nh0O6EYouj
- Sun, 22:19: RT @SciencePorn: Think like a proton, and stay positive. #motivation
- Sun, 23:09: Gnite world, and have an awesome tomorrow. :)
Thanks to National Novel Writing Month (a.k.a. NaNoWriMo), my third full-length novel, and the first novel-length Michael Macbeth story, Who Tend On Mortal Thoughts, finally has a solid first draft. I actually got to “The End” somewhere around 48,000 words on November 25th, and spent the next three days going back and finding any and every thin spot I could find to expand out a bit terribly worried that I would fall into the dreaded “Close, but no cigar!” category . But then, just after midnight on Thanksgiving, I managed to pull it off, earning the Winner’s Screen, the bragging rights, and most importantly, the experience of having spent a month as a full-time writer on a tight deadline and knowledge that I could indeed hack it.
Yesterday, I spent mostly sleeping, followed by steak dinner and a trip to Barnes & Noble (the literary geek’s equivalent to “I’m going to Disneyland!”). I also did my best to not think about the book at all, although I did find myself going back and adding another 100 words or so in a moment of weakness. Now that I’ve had a little time to let it sink in, it’s time to reflect and try to pull some lessons learned from the experience.
- Yes, Virginia, I am a writer. This isn’t something I learned really, but it was a nice reminder of something I already knew. I put in long hours and bent all of my brainpower towards getting this book done within the deadline, which included coming up with logistical strategies (“I won’t be able to get any writing done Sunday, I’d better double up on Saturday and Monday…”), exercising discipline (“I really don’t feel like writing this scene, but the story won’t work without it…”), and improvising fixes for damage control (“Ack! This part of my outline actually makes no damn sense for this character to do this action at this time. How can I fix this?”). But as grueling as it was, and as wiped out as I was by the end of the day, I was never once as resentful or burned out as I was by any given day of the former day job. This is my true and correct work, what I “should” be doing– now I just have to solve the logistical problem of making it profitable.
- 2,000 words is a pretty good day’s work for me. The target for NaNoWriMo is an average of 1,667 WPD (or 11,669 per week), but that also assumes you’re going to write every day of the month. 2,000 WPD for five days a week comes to an average of 10,000 words per week, which is still a pretty ambitious pace but allows you to recharge your batteries. So when I’m not doing NaNoWriMo, that will probably be my target for a regular project. I know that there are people who claim you can easily crank out 10,000 WPD, and they may be right, I’ll certainly investigate the possibilities. But for now, a target of 2,000 WPD makes three novels a year comfortably possible, and that’s a good place to start.
- “Write the book you want to read” may not work, but is probably a good place to start. It’s no secret among those familiar with them that my Michael Macbeth stories have always been “I wanted another Dirk Gently book, dammit!” at their heart. Who Tend On Mortal Thoughts started from this same premise, and when stuck I often went back to “What would a Dirk Gently book do here (besides miss another deadline)?” But of course, Michael is not Dirk Gently, Richmond Virginia is neither London nor Cambridge, and I am not Douglas Adams. So by the end of the book, I still came out with something that was almost, but not entirely, unlike a Dirk Gently book, and I now must consider the work on its own merits and flaws. I think it’s a good book, and I think there are even parts where it might be a great book. So that’s not a bad consolation prize, anyway.
- I really need to write “fatter” and slower. The “sweet spot” for novel publication, particularly in the genre I was writing for, is 75k-90k. I was trying to come up with a novel to fit that size, and it took a lot of going back and fleshing out to get it to 50k as it was. But when I sent the beta readers to check out the first rough of the first act, the reaction was a pretty universal “It happens too fast”/”You’re skimming over the plot”. I suspect this is because I write the same way I read (or watch movies), looking for the plot points and ignoring everything else. I don’t know when I got so ruthless about throwing out everything else, and really it’s not a good habit. If I’m going to read that way, why bother with a novel at all? Why not just read the Cliffs Notes? Or an outline.  I have to remember that sometimes, just taking delight in the characters and stepping into their world is also “the good stuff,” and that I shouldn’t be afraid to write a scene just because it would be a fun scene to include.
- I need to bake more complexity into the plot directly from the outline. I still need to develop the skill of thinking in terms of more complex stories. Right now, I have graduated from “A + B = C” (short story) to “A + (B + C)/D = E” (novella/short novel). I now need to level-up to “(A + B) / (C + D) + E = F”. If that makes sense. Which it probably doesn’t to anyone but me. Point is, I don’t need a “bigger, more epic” story, but I do need a story with more layers and a more intricate structure.
There is probably more, but that’s the extent of what I can easily bring to words right now. I’m very glad that I could finally participate– and win– NaNoWriMo. I don’t know how people can manage to pull it off with a day job! But anyone who jumps in and gives it a real try, whether they reach the arbitrary 50k “finish line” or not, you have my admiration, affection, and respect. I’m proud to be among your number!
 Actually, upon reflection, the Cliff Notes comment may be telling. So many of my college literature courses were of the “Read six novels this week, ten novels the weeks after that, and the entire works of William Shakespeare by the end of the semester…” variety that eventually I gave up and did just read the Cliff Notes because there was no other way to get through the class. Not proud of the fact, and always regarded it as a major failure of the University curriculum that I was forced into it. FWIW, for most things at least, I did try to go back and actually read the text later in adult life.
- Sat, 12:45: RT @Inkblitzer: *fake scottish accent* Now buttle off and tell Lady Luna that we are here to view the tapestries!
- Sat, 12:46: Oh @mlp_Plotline you rogue. Always making moves on the manes!
- Sat, 13:04: RT @ccagraveheart: For @the_gneech, care of @MMeghanMcCarthy. :P http://t.co/v2VQDwZQIM
- Sat, 13:40: Off to pick up @hantamouse! Hope he hasn't landed already. >.>
- Sat, 17:24: Awww yeah! @Inkblitzer kickin' that #NaNoWriMo hinder! Way to go, dude!
- Sat, 23:02: RT @NaNoWriMo: Everyone doing NaNo this year deserves a round of applause, whether you've won or not, have 50 or 50,000 words! Congratulati…
- Sat, 23:02: For @laurierobey ... http://t.co/iehlROl7XR
- Sat, 23:14: Y'know, Pr. @mlp_Luna has a point there, @mlp_Twilight. http://t.co/DgBfmRDfME
- Sat, 23:16: Gnite world, have an awesome tomorrow. And congrats & way to go all you @NaNoWriMo winners and participants!
- Sun, 08:35: RT @Fascinatingpics: Giving shelter in the rain - Nara Park, Japan. http://t.co/397glBkf1x
- Fri, 15:49: RT @laurierobey: http://t.co/fMaphzpsPN "My hair is an elaborate network of nerves, constantly processing information." #mst3k
- Fri, 17:26: #Buddha and #InkyGirl chill out on a long holiday weekend (and on my legs). http://t.co/BNRHvyFwCF
- Fri, 17:30: RT @chrisbrogan: Sit up straight, please. : )
- Fri, 18:01: Ack! Now #Buddha and #InkyGirl have made be ded from cute! http://t.co/V9JtiJNL7S
- Fri, 22:19: RT @TheTweetOfGod: Large groups of stupid people can accomplish stupid things that an individual stupid person is too stupid to even dream …
- Fri, 22:53: #InkyGirl says "I hopes you feew bettew, Auntie @LadyMoonglo!" http://t.co/zFPyQCRyeO
- Sat, 08:08: #Buddha, #Dasher, and #InkyGirl all pose nice for @graveyardgreg http://t.co/gniyg2jOBb
- Sat, 08:21: Dear Every Blog: If you don't have an RSS feed, I will probably not follow you.
- Sat, 08:30: Animefied Powerpuff Girls http://t.co/LkgzbGC3Aw
- Sat, 08:54: I'm Spartacus! Gimme my frappuccino already. http://t.co/O4tPJGKHqd
- Thu, 19:54: What is this, a grappling-hook dumping ground? #MST3K #TurkeyDay #FinalSacrifice
- Thu, 19:59: Zap and Troy: the Legendary Journeys! I’d totally watch it. #MST3K #TurkeyDay #FinalSacrifice #Rowsdower
- Thu, 19:59: RT @laurierobey: That shot contains too much nostril. #Rowsdower #mst3k
- Thu, 20:04: I will RULE CARL! #MST3K #TurkeyDay #FinalSacrifice
- Thu, 20:08: MITCHELL! #MST3K #TurkeyDay
- Thu, 20:09: RT @tawnybronzelyon: @the_gneech MITTENS!
- Thu, 20:10: This was @JoelGHodgson’s final ep. I may become verklempt. #MST3K #TurkeyDay #Mitchell
- Thu, 20:16: And the award for “What were they thinking?” title sequences goes to #Mitchell! #MST3K #TurkeyDay
- Thu, 20:16: RT @laurierobey: Master Ninja theme song! Oh, wait. #Mitchell #mst3k
- Thu, 20:18: That would be John Saxon! //RT @DejectedCadence: OMG that one guy was in Enter the Dragon! #mst3k
- Wed, 12:23: ARGH. Stuck at 47,860 words. Tried to add some follow-up scenes, but they don’t actually do anything but fill wordcount. Ugh.
- Wed, 12:25: I’m gonna have to pull out Dramatica Pro or start doing some story dissection or something. This story needs a good sub-plot to beef it up.
- Wed, 12:29: I’ve got all of those! // RT @salenstormwing: An epilogue can help. Or a prologue. Or an EPIPROLOGUE!
- Wed, 12:40: Bah, I’m tearing this do-nothing scene out. If I’m gonna be below wordcount, I’m gonna be honestly below wordcount. :P
- Wed, 14:08: RT @GeorgeTakei: Guilty. http://t.co/nCruuY12bb
- Wed, 14:51: RT @bengoodridge: @the_gneech Add a wacky sidekick. Kids dig a wacky sidekick. Then kill him off and reintroduce your protagonist as darker…
- Wed, 14:58: Hmm. I feel some rewrites coming on. But this is a good thing.
- Wed, 16:13: Your #InkyGirl pic of the day. http://t.co/6jX5xoe3vy
- Wed, 17:08: *flails!*
- Wed, 19:51: Missing Kerry tonight. She was always online at weird times and up for a chat.
- Tue, 12:07: The hieroglyphics are doing callbacks. >.>
- Tue, 13:31: RT @WIRED: What just happened in Doctor Who? Here’s a guide to the many references and easter eggs in the anniversary special: http://t.co/…
- Tue, 13:53: I envy all those writers who can “write fat” and then cut to fit wordcount. My tendency is to write “rushed” and need to flesh things out.
- Tue, 14:43: Ooooh, Manga Studio 5 arrived! Too bad I’m sprinting to the end of NaNoWriMo to play with it. But NEXT WEEK, BABY! Aww yeah.
- Tue, 14:45: Cover your bases, be both! // RT @chrisbrogan: F thankful. Be helpful. Thankful is a sentiment. Help people who need you. That's action.
- Tue, 14:46: “I’m a little surprised it worked too, actually,” said Michael. “But don’t look a gift curse in the mouth.” #AmWriting
- Tue, 15:56: RT @DuvalMagic: SHiFT code for three Golden Keys in Borderlands 2 on the way! Good luck, and happy looting!
- Tue, 15:56: RT @DuvalMagic: PS3: 5BKBT-K5FCZ-J66K3-HJ53T-5XTJW WinPC/Mac: 53WTJ-B9FZR-ZRCKT-J33TJ-6JRKJ X360: KJKT3-ZHBHR-SHJ5F-C6TTT-3R5ZZ
- Tue, 16:51: Nearly 3,000 words written today, time for a dinner break. I’m going to try to write some more tonight.
- Tue, 16:52: Less than 5,000 away from 50,000 and a victory. :)
- Mon, 12:29: RT @BrianKlems: I'm thankful I'm a writer because I can work all day without wearing pants. #ThankfulWriter
- Mon, 12:37: Guh, rough morning. Spent hours fighting w/ Dasher and updating software. Now trying to write and falling asleep at the keyboard.
- Mon, 12:37: C’mon Gneech, pull it together. You’re in the last week of #NaNoWriMo, it’s no time to fall apart. Remember how jazzed you were last night.
- Mon, 14:04: RT @StayPuft: RT if you're thankful that you ain't afraid of no ghost
- Mon, 14:10: Oh ye gods, no! I’ve been CRUNCHETIZED! O.o
- Mon, 14:10: …Well, not really. But I did break down and take a nap. Maybe now I’ll be able to write!
- Mon, 14:16: Important discovery: a Starbucks Doubleshot doesn’t taste very good immediately on the heels of a bowl of Cap’n Crunch.
- Mon, 14:57: RT @jimchines: I wonder if DC execs are thinking, "Marvel's releasing Avengers 2 three years after Avengers? Shouldn't they just reboot the…
- Mon, 15:08: I haven’t just written myself into a corner, I’ve written myself out onto a ledge with a steam train headed straight for me. Not good.
- Mon, 15:09: Shouting “Geronimo!” and enlisting my other regenerations to help! //RT @Inkblitzer: Dodge the train and jump on top of it!
- Sun, 16:42: I've been running errands since 6:00 a.m. and not got any writing done ...and now, I'm going to watch the #DoctorWho 50th. #NotWriting
- Sun, 16:42: Tomorrow will be some serious catch-up time!
- Sun, 20:31: So... Day Of the Doctor was AWESOME. O.o OMG #SaveTheDay #DoctorWho
- Sun, 20:32: I know it probably sounds awful, but it's so incredibly nice to not be disappointed by something. O.o
- Sun, 20:33: MLP:FIM and Doctor Who both, you have made my inner geek very happy this weekend. Thank you. :)
- Sun, 20:45: re: #DoctorWho, it's like Moffat went back and patched all the holes caused by the series reboot, and sewed it all up beautifully.
- Sun, 20:47: We got McGann's regeneration, we got the story of the Time War, and we got redemption (of sorts) for Gallifrey.
- Sun, 20:51: I also love that Docs 5, 6, and 7, even tho they aren't directly in the special, got something to do: http://t.co/rOWLKbLYnC
- Sun, 20:54: Minor niggles: I would have liked to have seen Romana on Gallifrey, and to know whatever happened to Susan.
- Sun, 20:56: And now, on to the Christmas special, in which the Doctor dies. Again. I'll miss you, Doctor Matt! You are tied with Doctor Tom for my fave.