Tag Archives: writing

List your ideas: Reminders for writers.

Ideas strike at anytime, they are not on a schedule.

Whether you’re having an idea for a new story or just remembered that you should add that one awesome line at the bottom of that one page, you need to make sure you do one thing right away.

WRITE IT DOWN! Like, now!

As a writer, you know that if you don’t, you are not going to remember it, that’s why you need to write it down in the moment so that you can capture the idea and not let it go. It seems that in the past, writers always carried a little notebook so that they could jolt down those ideas before they disappear in the ether. This is still a viable option but I would like to propose the alternative I have been using thanks to today’s technology.

LIST YOUR IDEAS on your phone!

I don’t know about you but I ALWAYS have my phone on me, whether I am at work or at home, it is always in my pocket so why not just write it down on your phone?

Some might use an actual note app like Evernote or the like but if, like me, you got a free old Iphone, there is an app on it that might just do the trick: REMINDERS.

photo 1

In the reminders app, I create a list for each project I am working on, plus a general writing list for random, well, general ideas.

photo 1 (2)

When the muse strikes, I simply list it under the correct list name. I then go into scrivener (or your preferred word processor) and copy my notes in there. I usually expand on my ideas then and there as well. Once that is done, I check it on my list and move on to the next item. Satisfying, right?

photo 2 (2)

The great thing about the app is that it does not delete your notes. Instead, it hides them, so you can always go and see the hidden notes from earlier. It keeps it all.

Now, that does not mean you should give up on pen and paper entirely. I still love writing long hand on good ol’ paper. But since you already have your phone in your pocket, you might as well use it for something constructive.

-N

 

Character Study

Character study for the 2016 Top Cow Talent Hunt

I am currently working on my submission for the 2016 Top Cow Talent Hunt. This year, I must write a 22 pages Comicbook script which takes place in the futuristic world from the Aphrodite IX and IX Generation series.

Though I have a pretty good idea of which character I would like to focus on and what type of story I’d like to tell, I decided to do some thorough studying first. I am currently re-reading the books in order to get a clear picture of  the world and the characters in it. I am building a timeline, gathering information about the settings, and doing related research. One thing I am forcing myself to focus on are the characters and, more specifically, the nine self-proclaimed gods from IX generation. If I am to write a story featuring one of them, I want to make sure I know them well and that I truly nail their individual voices. In order to do so, I use my background in Theater Arts (especially Acting) and gather information about the characters so that I can appropriately “play” them.

IXgeneration-character study

In order to achieve that, I do character study using an Acting script analysis method. I ask myself two very simple questions as I go through the script.

1)What does the character say about him/herself?

2)What do other characters say about him/her?

For example, in the case of Ares:

characterstudy4

From what this character says, Ares is “dumber” than intended…

characterstudy3

… and he is also, according to Hades,  gay.

I go through the entire books , gathering info for all the characters I study. It provides me with a clear picture of who they are and how they are perceived by others. Of course, you also have to take their actions in account ( actions speak louder than words, right?) and even their appearance.

characterstudy1
HADES is the one speaking through this Aphrodite XV .

You do not want to take everything for granted though. What a character says about somebody else is not always the truth. They might have motives as to why they are saying something about someone else or even about themselves. Simply put, all the information you gather should be taken with a grain of  salt and you should always look back on it with a critical eye. Ares might be dumb, but he is still a great strategist. He has the best army in the world after all. Characters are not one dimensional and it is their inner contradictions that make them interesting. Find those contradictions or create them in your new characters, using the Dig Deep questionnaire:

DigDeep

With all those character elements figured out, you should be able to more easily find the character’s voice. The character might even start having a life of their own in your head (freaky!).

One more helpful thing is to try and find someone in your real life on whom to base the character on. It is  not uncommon for writers to create characters based on their friends and/or family. For example, Comicbook Writer Brian Michael Bendis wrote his version of the character of Aunt May (from Ultimate Spiderman) after his own mother.

Alright, I have got to go back to studying now. Good luck to all.

-N

characterstudy2

Music to write to

Do you need Music to write to?

I know I do.

And sometimes I don’t.

It really depends. Listening to music while you write can really help you flow and cancel the rest of the world out. Sometimes though, you just need silence in order to focus on the task at hand. I usually listen to music when I am JUST writing. It helps me write and get in the mood when I am free flowing, writing long hand, or scripting. But when I am editing, working on more technical aspects of my writing, and reading my dialogue out loud, I usually don’t listen to music.

When and IF you need music to write to, you have several options out there. Let’s take a look.

Make your own project specific playlist:

This is what I do. For example, as I write this, I am listening to my Arthur King playlist. It is built around Led Zeppelin and other 70s and 80s rock songs. I’m not sure why this is the soundtrack to Arthur King but it is. It just fits the book. I even picked a theme song for Arthur: “Whole lotta Love“. The only thing about building your own playlist is that you need quite a large catalog of songs to choose from.

ledzeppelin001
Those guys are so COOOOL.

But then, you can still use Spotify:

What turned me on to Spotify was Kieron Gillen‘s (The Wicked and the Divine, Phonogram) playlist.  Kieron created a project-specific playlist for The Wicked and the Divine on Spotify so that he can share it with the world. He also created a collaborative playlist that his readers can contribute music to if, for exmaple, they think it speaks to the world of the book.  His work revolves around music so it makes perfect sense. Spotify is free if you don’t mind limited access and ads.

As an alternative, you can also go to 8tracks.com. They have playlists of music to write to already put together by users. It’s fast and painless.

Or you just want some random ambient sounds:

You can use asoftmurmur.com to build your own rain and thunder soundtrack, a fire by the beach, or birds chirping in a coffee shop. Up to you. I like to mix the singing bowl with ocean waves in the background. Very Zen.

Another interesting one is Radio Aporre which “plays recordings from its global soundmap project.” Some people might like it but I find it to be sometimes too distracting for writing. Though it’s still cool to listen to recorded “ambience” from everywhere around the world.

In the end it’s up to you. I know that music sometimes simply help me “sit and get started” which is often the hardest part of any writing. As long as it helps you and keeps you motivated, do it. Find you music and maybe even your muse in it.

-N

 

Comic Book Puzzle

Writing comic books is like solving a puzzle.

The last couple days have not been  easy on the writing front.

I am writing an outline for a limited 6 issue series I will pitch to Oni Press. Their next round of open submissions should start in September. Right now, i am tackling the middle of the story. In the fantastic comic book “Spread“, writer Justin Jordan talked about the middle part of the story being the hardest part to write. Well, I feel the truth in that. Perhaps a bit too much.

I am laser focused on the middle of my story. I have been rewriting, and reworking, and trying to make it all fit together. Now I am starting to hate it, hate my writing, and hate my dumb self.

I finally found solace in the ComicVine podcast from June 26th that I listened to at work today.

(Yes, I have a job where I can do that and yes, I’m playing catch-up on my Podcasts.)

joshua-williamson

Watch out! Joshua Williamson is coming right at you! 

Joshua Williamson (Ghosted, Birthright, Nailbiter) was the guest. The way he talked about getting stuck, his writing process, and the importance of humility was inspiring. It gave me a renewed outlook on my process. I realized I was not so crappy after all but simply trying to solve the puzzle that Comicbook writing sometimes is. Sometimes, you just need to come at it from a different angle.

-N

Loony the Moonian makes friends.

Our first published work: Loony the Moonian.

Now that our second story has been published in this year’s 8th Wonder Press Anthology “Uncanny Adventures: Duo #1”, I can finally share with you last year’s story.

This is Nick Nall and I’s first published work. 8th Wonder Press was looking for short story pitches involving the use of science and/or MAD science. I knew I really wanted to use Nick’s mad cartooning skills to make an old fashioned cartoon in the style of the Looney Tunes AND I wanted it to be completely silent. NO dialogue.  We came up with the 12 pages story of how a poor lonely Moonian named Loony literally MAKES friends.

The story was originally published last year in 8th Wonder Press’s Anthology “Uncanny Adventures: Science vs MAD Science”.

I learned a lot from working on Loony. I learned about telling a story with images only. I learned how to better communicate with my collaborator and artists Nick (still working on that). I learned that I should not be so anal about it and let the artist do his job. I learned that sometimes, you should kill your “cool visual ideas” in order to put the story first. And I still learning.

-N

The Pixar Method

An easy method from the famed studio to make sure your story checks out.

Here is a great article by Comics writer Michael Moreci (Roche Limit, Hoax Hunters, Curse, Burning Fields, Transference, ReincarNATE) about storytelling.

In the article, Mister Moreci shares some of the Pixar storytelling magic with us mere mortals.

According to Pixar, every story can be broken down, from beginning to end, as following this sequence of events:

1.Once upon a time there was

2. Every day

3. One day

4. Because of that

5. Because of THAT

6. Until finally

DI-Toy-Story-Of-Terror-2

I actually knew that formula from Improv !

Back in France, when I got into Improvisational Theater, we would sometimes use similar prompts as a way of improvising stories. Though the content was still improvised, the structure itself would provide a skeleton for your story to pile the meat on.

I have had a lot of fun breaking down my stories in this fashion. Go ahead and try it. It will give a sense of clarity and purpose to your story which will help shaping your outline. It will also shed light on potential plot holes and problems in your structure AND force you to be quite concise.

Read the rest of the article to see him apply the Pixar method to the recent blockbuster “Mad Max: Fury Road” to somewhat surprising effect.

Top Cow Talent Hunt 2015: “Fearless”

“Fearless” was the first script I wrote for the 2015 Top Cow Talent Hunt.

It featured my now favorite character, the tortured and powerful Ji Xi.

1526488-13th

Somebody buys him some new clothes already.

I asked myself, if I had to carry a very dangerous weapon such as the Thirteenth Artifact, where would I hide so that I don’t put people’s in harm’s way? Right away, I pictured the white Arctic desert and the story started.

We actually open with a nightmare scene. I thought it would be a cool way of showing Ji Xi’s fears about unintentionally harming people and explain why he stays so isolated until, well, he doesn’t.

Here is “Fearless”.

-N

Je m’Elance.

Get it? It’s a bilingual pun.

In French, “s’elancer” means to “make haste” and it’s funny because I am currently looking for an artist on Elance.com hence the post title:”Je m’elance”.

Ahaha

It’s like that joke the UPS guy told me the other day:

Two cats are swimming across the English Channel. The first is British and is named “One, Two, Three”. The second is French and is named “Un, Deux, Trois”. Which one makes it across???

elance-logo-new

Answer is: The British cat makes it because “Un, Deux, Trois” Quatre, Cinq.

oh wait, it doesn’t work when you write it… the funny part is that when you say it out loud, it sounds like this:  “Un, Deux, Trois” Cat Sank.

Ahaha

So yeah, Elance.

So far, it has been a great experience. I posted a job offer and got tons of proposals from artists in return. If you’ve been following, you know I have had the hardest time finding an artist and Elance has been nothing short of a godsend. You can see their portfolio, work experience, and ratings from past clients. That is super helpful. You also send messages and files to the freelancers all on the site so that there is a record of everything were a dispute to arise. I quite like that.

So far so good.

Of course, I’ll tell you guys how it all turns out when I select a candidate and go through the whole process.

Later,

-Nico

The Call of the Demon- Oni Press

Starting this may, Oni Press (publisher of Scott Pilgrim and other fantastic funnies) is opening its own submission process for artists, cartoonists, and writers. That’s right, even if you are a writer without an artist attached, you can still submit your pitch to Oni Press.

ONI_PRESS_LOGO-CAMPAIGN

Their submission guidelines are very specific and actually very helpful in sharpening your ideas. It goes like this:

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES:

Writers:

– Pitches should be:

– A logline – [what’s the idea/concept]

(I did not know what a logline was before this and had to look it up. Here is some advice. Go ahead and try to write a logline for your project, it can be quite difficult to distill your concept/ Idea to just a few words.)

– A one-page synopsis / overview – A short summary that contextualizes who your project is for and how it fits into the marketplace

(I never even considered that. Who is my project for? You know, besides myself. And how does it fit in the marketplace? Heavy questions.)

– A 3-5 page outline – give us the full beginning, middle and end of your story so we can see your execution.

– A sample comic script containing at least two scenes, consisting of at least eight pages and no more than twenty pages. This should be a comic book script, NOT a screenplay.

(YES! They are actually asking for script samples! That is AWESOME! They want to see that you can write a Comic Book Script, that you understand the medium).

Needless to say, I am hard at work on my submission but not just that. The guidelines they provide can truly be helpful for any project and help you think of your writing from different perspective, be it in the current marketplace or as a couple sentences logline.

-N

Steam rollin’

Just a quick update this week as I steam roll my way towards upcoming deadlines.

Next sunday, March 15th, I have two projects due.

Calendar with Deadline Circled

Wait, this picture is all wrong. The deadline is March 15th!!!  (AhahA,.. get it?)

First off, our final file for 8th Wonder Press 2015 Anthology is due. Nick is putting the finishing touches on his magnificent artwork. As soon as he is done, I will slap some super duper lettering on top and voila!  Our second published story will be on its merry way.

Second, the Top Cow Talent Hunt is ending next Sunday as well. It will be time for me to turn in my scripts. I wrote three and I am oh so proud of having made it so far. Regardless of the outcome, it has been a fantastic learning experience. I have to thank the friends who took the time to read and provide me feedback. I especially have to thank my wife for reading all the scripts and providing me with a necessary alternative point of view. I especially love that she suggested the best insult ever for a character to say in one of the scripts: ” Bring it, dickbags!”

As you can imagine, I still have plenty to do as the dreaded day approaches so Ciao and C U LATER.

-N