Friday, May 08, 2015

Recipes and Cooking Up A Comic

Recipes help keep things on track when you are planning to bake a cake, and planning can help in more than just cooking. No matter how skillful you are at improvisation you'll find that having a plan will make things easier for you later on, and when you need to change things you'll be able to see what changes need to be made to allow for the modifications. It doesn't matter if the plan is an outline, a diagram, or a detailed story: Having one should be paramount. Here are some tips on creating a plan for your comic; hopefully they will help.

1) Set goals. Not only should each character have their own goal, but the group as a whole needs to have some endgame. It doesn't matter if it's as simple as finding acceptance to as abstract as finding peace for his world; characters need to be working for something as it helps set their characterization in your head. The more concrete those goals, the more solid their characterizations. The goal of the group provides more than a finish line for you; it also provides a reason for the group to act as a team, as well as provide conflict if each member decides a different solution will work. Goals are thus important for more than just the story, but for characters as well.

2) Determine how you need to accomplish each goal. You need to figure out not only what tools each character needs to accomplish their goals, but how those tools need to be used. You need to figure out those individual steps work together when it comes to solving the Big Goal. It's sort of like making a cake: You need to bake the individual cakes, mix the frosting, and prepare the filling. In order to make a great cake you need to know how each component works together; without that knowledge the cake can get really scary.

3) Mix all of this together. Once you have all of the individual components worked out, you then need to figure out how they will mix together. You need to figure out which scenes should follow each other, looking for things like counterpoints and complements; sort of like playing sweet off of savory you need to decide which scenes will work together and which need some space between them. It's fine to cut some scenes if they don't work; you shouldn't wedge scenes in just because they are on the list. You may find that you need to add some scenes for better transitions and bridging, as well as to explain situations as they come up. Do whatever is needed.

3) Charge in.

If you go into something with at least some planning, the writing will go a lot easier and a lot quicker. You may need to throw in some additional scenes and find that others don't work as well as you thought they would, but at least you have some structure to work from. You can allow inspiration to take over at any time, and just go for it; at least you know what needs to be changed. It always helps to have a recipe to go off, and this should help you build one for your script. 

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Do You Really Want to Use Tatoos?

If you want to see an illustrator twitch merely suggest tattoos. While they may sound cool, they had an extra level of difficulty to drawing the character as they must only not be designed to serve the character well but must be designed so as to be replicated easily enough. This is sort of why tribal tattoos are so common; they can be easily replicated without thinking them through too much. However, given the uses you can put tattoos to they may be worth it.

Obviously they can be used to make a point about the character. "Edgier" characters are more willing to differentiate themselves from other characters, and tattoos and piercings are but one way to do that. The type of tattoo chosen can tell a lot about the character, as well as how the character sees himself. A tribal tattoo shows someone interested in connecting with a primal part of himself while a Celtic tattoo is trying to connect to his ancestors. A henna tattoo may be a temporary addition, but is a good traditional way of adding to one's appearance. Some tattoos show off a person's desire to prove his toughness or patriotism, just as they can demonstrate a person's artistic side.

The tattoos can also define past and/or current affiliations, such as the yakuza does, as well as American servicemen. It can show gang or tribal membership, something vital for free passage through areas controlled by gangs or tribes. This can also mean instant cred with those groups just as it can mean some restrictions; some Japanese pools forbid those with tattoos. Taking that to an extreme, they can be required in a dystopian atmosphere in order to just do business, such as the Mark of the Beast or a personalized UPC code.They can also demonstrate not beginning to a specific group, such as punks and rebels do.

If you really want to have fun, they can also be used for power. One of those weird cliches you don't see enough of is the tattooed man whose tattoos come to life or have some affect on the character when activated. The exact mechanism doesn't matter, be it magic, nanotech, or even focus-based transmutative abilities, but they can make for some interesting character development, especially if the character has to go on a quest for more tattoos.

If you are looking for a way to add some extra symbolism to your comic, tattoos can work. They also make your illustrator hate you, so use sparingly.

Monday, May 04, 2015

The Ten Scene Test

There are times when I'm not sure if I can really get into writing a script. Sure, I can do the outline and other starting business, but I'm still not always 100% sure if I can finish a script when I start it. In that case I sit down and debate ten scenes tat I like before I really get into thing.

Those ten scenes need to sell me on the script. As such they need to show me why I'm writing the script; after all, I'm starting n a journey with a number of characters that are most likely annoy by the time I'm done with them. They're going to mess with my script, take control and write their own dialogue and actions, and basically drive me nuts by the time I'm through. If that's the stick I want some carrot.

Those ten scenes can be about anything, but they need to be interesting. I want to see if the idea has any legs, and those scenes give me a lot of insight into that question. If the script can sell itself to me, if it can show me that there is a reason to write it, and that I can have some fun with it, then I can start writing it. But I need those ten scenes first.

Even if I end up using not a single one of those scenes, each one is a seed that can, with just a little fertilization, grow and spread, becoming part of the supporting structure of the script. It gives me insight into the script, giving me direction to the action and dialog as well as a key into how the characters think. That insight is invaluable to writing the script.

Although they can be the big scenes of the script, such as the final climax or the inciting incident, the real fun ones are those scenes that exemplify how the characters interact with their world and each other.