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January 16th, 2002

Getting Ahead

Well, by virtue of staying offline yesterday, I managed to finish the week's SJ and NN strips; today I need to work on getting as much of next week done as possible, although the SJ strips need approval from an outside party, for reasons which will be made clear later. (No spoilers here, unh-uh!) I like the upcoming SJ storyline ... it's going to be rather distanced from the main story, sorta like Yin's trip to The Village was, and feature several new characters who may or may not come back later.

BTW, speaking of The Village, a clip from "The Prisoner" played a small but significant role in "Kate and Leopold." When it came up in the movie, Laurie and I were laughing like crazy -- but I think we were the only people in the theater who got the reference. Oh well.

NN is more of a problem; I've had difficulty writing NN since about halfway through the summer camp storyline, and it hasn't eased up since. Occasionally I get a flash of inspiration and churn out a week or so easily, and then it's back to squeezing blood from a stone to get more strips out. The characters just sorta stopped talking to me, one day. It's not like they're hostile or anything ... they just don't seem to be much interested in me any more. They sorta want to just get on with their lives, and don't particularly want to deal with me making a comic strip about them.

In any case, I need to get ahead so there's no lapse due to Further Confusion ... I'll be on the road for four days and recovering on the fifth, so I need to get projects out of the way before that happens. I hope Laurie doesn't get too lonely while I'm gone. She mentioned going to a craft show with a friend of ours ... I hope she does, and has a great time.

I also hope I don't come home to find the house completely rearranged. In her quest to make "just a little more room," or make things "a little nicer around here," or to "finally get the place organized," she is prone to moving everything around, even in spaces of the apartment that I sorta consider to be "my territory." I really don't care if she rearranges the living room, the dining room, etc. ... but I don't like having to go hunt for my drawing supplies, finding that my furry comics have been "put away" somewhere, etc.

My desire to write some sword & sorcery continues unabated. I wrote a fantasy novel once, but I was never particularly happy with it ... it was too "thin." Not in terms of being short (although it was that too), but in terms of being to shallow a story. Characters A, B, and C carry wounded character D across wilderness E, hounded by undead sorcerer F. When captured, wounded character D sacrifices self to give character A a chance to kill undead sorcerer F in order to save the lives of characters B and C.

It's a good little novel; certainly all of my test readers enjoyed it. One of them described it as "one of those books I just can't put down," which was a nice ego boost. But in terms of story depth and thematic content, it's roughly on par with your average Arnold Schwartzenagger movie -- it's a fun ride until it's over, then you forget it and go stand in line for the next one. If I'm going to be writing novels, and more importantly if I'm going to be publishing them, then I want there to be something deeper.

Plus, the heroine of the story (A) was entirely too boring. All of the interesting characters were the supporting roles. I have yet to find a hero who really fires my imagination. I'd like to find a strong enough character that I could keep writing books about him or her indefinitely. After all, the fantasy genre looooooooves sequels, trilogies, and cycles!

Sad thing there is, I could easily write novels about _other_ people's characters. If I had the rights to Conan, Indiana Jones, or even Lara Croft, I could churn out books by the truckload. But I don't want to do that. I want to make my _own_ success, not just ride somebody else's. Even if I wrote the greatest Conan story ever, it would be a testament to Robert E. Howard, rather than something for me to claim for myself.

My other problem, is coming up with neat concepts. I can write dialog, action, and character beautifully ... but plot is a great big hole in my skillset. I have a friend who comes up with very cool basic concepts, but never fleshes them out into real stories. I've considered asking him to team up with me ... but I don't really want to. Again, I'd feel like I was basically using his talent, and not my own.

Perhaps, I'm just nuts. :)

Anyway, enough rambling here; it's back to the drawing board for me!

-The Gneech

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