Your Adventure: Creating your story….
There are so many stories out there waiting to be told. Yet I’ve come to realize that it not my responsibility to tell them all…I only plan on telling one right now. As you craft your tale, you will be flooded with advice. What formulas to use, what not to do and how others could tell your tale better. (The last one drives me nuts)
Well I am not here to tell you how to do it. I want you to just do it. Tell your tale and make it sing. What I will do though is jot a few thoughts down on what I look for in comic/novel storytelling and what has worked for me. I figure you can take what you need and leave what you don’t.
1.Starting- : This more deals with epics than gag writing. The first thing I did in creating the bean is I wrote the ending. There is an ending, I know how my tale ends I know the last page. Do not worry, I am not going to spill the beans. The key was to give me an endpoint and work towards it. It allows me to have direction. I do not have all the guts of the story written, because I am letting that adapt and grow as I work through this. Yet having that ending also made it easier to have a start point. For me it was starting the tale in a inn and letting my lead character end up on a road, that slowly heads to the last page. Stories that have no ending will drift really easy into chaos and lack of direction, which in turn turns me off.
2.Scripting– I script through sketch. Since this is a comic, I do not write every little detail out. I actually mock up the issue and completely sketch it out. I also rough the dialogue here. It allows me to keep in loose and nothing is set in stone until I ink and lay the text in indesign. That is so important to keep the tale loose and be willing to bend, because you never know what changes that can occur that will make your tale better. I also write future dialogue. Yes I talk to myself at times in the car, I write it on notes. If an idea is there write it down, because they do go away and a crucial point of your story in the future might be lost. My notes are a mess, but I understand them. They are just notes.
3. World Building– Ok, a lot of creators get trapped here and a lot of writers spend more time fleshing out every little minute detail rather than focusing on their story and character growth. WRITE YOUR STORY FIRST, if it is good enough the world will build itself! Seriously, I literally build the world of the broken moon as I move along. Myths, religions, social class, magic etc… comes as I let the story grow. So start drawing your strip, which leads us to 4.
4. One page at a time- Yup. Honestly no one is going to do this for you and if you do not learn to focus and build a strong work ethic your tale will sit in just one place. Your head. The key to making your story work is to start by doing it one page at a time. As a comic artist, I focus on two pages a night, if not more, during my production schedule. I am my biggest critic and yet sometimes I just got to move on and keep pushing forward. If a page really needs to be fixed, I will do it there, if not I do later. Sometimes letting a page sit for a day or two, helps me realize that I was being way too critical.
5. Study to keep it realistic- What are you nuts? Yes, study. I read all sorts of reference books. Right now I am reading all about wilderness survival for a part in my books. I needed to know how a person could survive in certain environments and what they would do if they had the knowledge. I read about plant life and ecosystems. I asked my cousin who is in the medical profession how one would treat wounds without tools and perform battlefield surgery, which was an eye opener. Yet by taking a moment to study different things I was able to apply them to my tale to give my fantasy a dash of reality. Did you know spiderwebs(cobwebs) can be used to help plug wounds?
6. Change it up- You can have goblins, vampires and elves in your tale, but change it up. You need to think how can I make my tale unique. What can I do different. It is ok to have a familiar vibe to your tale but what can you do to make it your own. How do you add that spice so your elven vampire slayer is unique. I do grow tired of all the magical school series for special kids, yes it’s hot but it’s a theme that is being beat to death. If it’s about a magical school, think how you can change it so it does not feel like hogwarts. And just so you know, I have elves, but they are not Tolkien elves, they are my elves.
7. Drawing backgrounds- William Stout, his art is so cool and a reason why I do what I do, told me that everything around you is diverse and your art should mirror that. Trees do not all look the same, homes are different, bottles are different, people are different. Learn to diversify your artwork and learn to draw backgrounds. You can tell a lot about your world with background art and it allows your world to be real. I recommend getting a bunch of national geographics or coffee table books and start sketching environments. It’s good to learn how to draw people, it’s even better being able to place them.
8. Grow a thick skin- the moment you put something up, someone is going to have an opinion about it. Positive or negative. Realize it’s just that an opinion. Your idea is yours so take those opinions both positive and negative with a grain of salt. Learn to step back and you might see some great ways to improve your craft. I know I did.
9. If your gonna write an epic- end it! The best epics both comic and novel are those with direction. This is so important I had to mention it twice.
10. Study people and shades of grey- Your characters in your story are usually a composite of you. Scary huh? I try to pull myself out of my story so I people watch. Everyone one of my characters is based of personalities of people I know. I usually try to think how would so and so act in this situation, what would the say, are they abrasive or are they calm and understanding. You have to be open minded and realize that people come in all shades of gray. Even the most truly evil of characters still laugh, some might cry, and some might not be so evil, while even the most good can have flaws. It makes your story a little more believable. This is a hard one, yet it is an important one. It also helps break stereotyping which can really kill a tale. The evil knight, the cute princess, the broken king, the druid, the mage, the ranger…. just by typing this I can already identify with characters that fall into this trap. You might have a ranger in your tale, but I guarantee he prob can do other things, in “the Dragon Hunters” the lead warrior knits, I thought that was a stroke of brilliance. So don’t be afraid to give your characters quirks.
I think that is enough to chew on for a bit. I believe there are some great stories waiting to be told. As I said before, these suggestions are what help me with my storytelling. I hope they might offer a little encouragement. Yet it doesn’t me anything if you do not start now and figure out how to best tell your tale.