Tuesday, September 09, 2014

BackTo Some Basics

There are some writing that everyone forgets about. Let's discuss these.

1) Kill your darlings. With a machete.
Every so often you write that really cool scene that you really love but doesn't really fit. So, of course you rewrite a few things so that the scene fits and you end up royally screwing things up. If you really want see this in action, watch the deleted scenes on the DVD and instead of doing the typical fanboy "Man! They should have used that!" figure out why the scene was dropped. Yeah, sometimes scenes had to be dropped due to time issues, but sometimes the scene was dropped for other reasons, usually precisely the reasons that you should drop your own really cool scenes.

2) Write the first chapter and then delete it.
Too many writers fall in love with their own writing and forget that sometimes writing is all about the slicing and dicing. Some people take a chapter or two before they really get into the spirit of things. Thus, if you really want to see the work as a whole improve really debate killing those first couple of chapters. That applies to any written form, including comics; take a closer look at the beginning part of your projects with an eye on what you can delete and you'll be surprised at how much you'll prune. That pruning usually only helps the book or script.

3) The plot is not the only thing that needs to go forward, part one.
Part of a well-balanced comic are the scenes that have nothing to do with plot. Look at Kitty Pryde of the X-Men. She's a cool character because we've grown up with her; we've seen her crush on Collossus and Nightcrawler, we've seen her yell down Wolverine, and we've seen her go shopping with the X-Women. Few of these scenes have advanced the plot; they were all character development. Sometimes they did feed back into the plot, but usually all they did was develop her character. Just look at the of X-Men football games; you just had a group of friends hanging out having fun. Remember to have some of those scenes and you'll find that people will care about your characters and they'll keep coming back to your comic just to see what's going on with their friends and/or family.

4) The plot is not the only thing that needs to go forward, part two.
I need to emphasize that you do not need to move the plot forward in every scene. It's fine to drop a clue in a scene that is otherwise about two people falling in love or ending a scene with klaxons sounding. All I'm saying is that sometimes you just need to throw in a cool scene just because you need a break. Or because you need to explore the world a bit. If those scenes feel right, go for it. But...don't throw those scenes in just because you feel there is a rule saying you need to. You'll note this contradicts the "kill your darlings" point. If you want to see this done badly, watch "Y Mama Tambien" with its scenes that are nothing but endless exposition that goes nowhere. On the other hand look at the newsstand scenes in "Watchmen"; you can omit them with no problem, but why would you want to?

5) The hero needs to lose every so often.
As much as people throw the Kobyashi Maru in Kirk's face, the reality is that he loses quite a bit. Sure, he gets the job done in the end, but sometimes he has to go through some really nasty territory to get there. And that's how it needs to be; the hero needs a challenge and you as a writer need to show us that he can fail. Not only is it great for character development, but it helps build suspense; sure, it may be the last fight of the comic but we've him lose twice to that guy, what right does he think he has to win? Failures should not be seen as the enemy, but as opportunity.

So basically have some fun when you write. Do that and you would be surprised how much better your writing will get. 

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