The outline is coming along. One thing that I keep getting hung up on is my having a clear idea of how many main characters I’ll be working with throughout the book, but NOT a clear idea of who the heck they are. Intimately, I mean. I keep second-guessing myself about plot directions wondering what their future personalities might offer the storyline… But that’s the point of a loose outline, I guess. Plenty of room for rewrites at future stages. And a-truuuuuudge…
Archive for January, 2008
Okay, so step #1 in my Schedule is a grudging trek of mental drudgery. It is udgy. Stay with me!
I just watched the new film “Once”. I recommend it highly to anyone who likes a) music, b) non-traditional romance movies and c) music. It is a film about friendship and love interwined so intimately with songwriting that the music becomes the third partner in the relationship. The two leads were stunningly understated in their perfect chemistry, and I simply couldn’t believe that songs written for a movie these days could actually be SO DANG WONDERFUL. Sure, you may not click with the style (I did), but you just have to admire the respect these guys paid to the audience in gifting us with original songs that stand alone as just really good indie-rock songs. And the story was good, too. Speaking of which, I promise the next post will be about how far I’ve come with my OWN story. I just had to share a great film.
Well, “the SCHEDULE” is up. Please refer to the innocuous little link on the right side of the page, concealing a monster of a list. All said and done, there are 115 steps listed there, the first 86 taking an estimated average of 3 or 4 night shifts to complete, and the last 29 taking who knows how the heck long. I need to get quicker on Photoshop…
Well, here’s where the proverbial rubber hits the road. I’ve organized; now I must do! It’s all been text and tittering thus far, but dagnabbit there’ll be some tantalizing sketches up there soon. The only problem with this whole ‘blogging-accountability’ pump-up thing is that the very first stage is to finally gather together all the scraps of story floating around in my head and form it into a cohesive outline. It’s mandatory in order to know what visuals will go to each of the seven chapters. I’d say I have close to four of those chapters fairly well in hand, but only concept-wise. I now have to flesh those out, as well as dredge up the content of the other three… and a half… or so. Ugh. This will take a little while, and I hope that in that time I can generate more interest in this site, making it more and more impossible, with each new presence, to slacken in my drive to attain each goal. 115 steps to a publishable graphic novel… Two years? Three? Who will see the end with me? I hope it’s you!
Just so you know, I have been working on this graphic novel for a lot longer than I’ve been blogging about it. It actually began last winter, suddenly having the urge to achieve my dream of actually publishing a comic book of some kind. The story actually formed pretty quickly, and I’ve been sketching out junk for it for months. So I have a little bit of a diving board, art-wise; I just have to fill the pool now so I don’t crack my head open. I have no idea what that metaphor means. Moving along…
On a totally unrelated side note, I saw “Cloverfield” last night! Whooo dogies! I don’t want to ruin it too much for anyone, but I just have to gripe about the casting of such stinkin’ pretty people. I felt like the whole first 20 minutes was filmed at a Seventeen magazine model shoot. It would’ve been a whole lot more believable with actually Everyman-feeling casting. At least the movie is saved by not having to give a crap about the characters for the entire rest of the movie. WOW! What a sock to the face! In a good way! Ask Dana; I spent the entire movie wide-eyed, with a huge grin on my face. Or maybe she didn’t see it while her face was dug into my armpit for the entire last hour. Great date movie, man– that is, if your date isn’t overly bothered by unrealistically attractive people populating New York City, with uncannily lingering shots of cleavage and too-short skirts in the midst of supposed handheld camera-chaos. Sigh… Someday someone will make an action movie for the rest of us.
Anyway, rant over. Schedule complete, until I notice things missing. Shift over, typing done. Bed now.
So I turned 30 on New Year’s Eve, and as a big ol’ “Good job surviving this long!” my wife Dana splurged and got me a Wii! It’s the first system that’s made me whimper in aniticipation in a long time, but I thought it’d never happen, and had put it into the “sacrifices you make as an adult that are stupid” category a while ago. It’s been a ton of fun, and I’ve been having more fun making “Mii”s than I probably should. Name that Office character!
I’d like to say a quick word about the content of the story of my book. In the previous post I talked a little about fantasy themes; sword hilts and whatnot. The story of my book will be set in a world easily labeled a “fantasy” one, but it won’t feel very much like Dungeons and Dragons. I love the fantasy genre as far as its possibilities are concerned, but within that genre I haven’t read many volumes that I thought were truly engaging and original, and those are both labels it would obviously be nice to attach to my own creation.
I am not a heavy reader; I can’t devour books at breakneck speed like my wife can. My mind wanders a lot, and it can take me a while to finish a novel. I reread sentences constantly, a few times, to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Therefore, when I choose books I try to be pretty selective about their content; I usually won’t commit to something which seems run-of-the-mill or cliche, no matter what genre they’re in. I made that mistake with Robert Jordan’s ‘Wheel of Time’. (Steel yourself for the following opinions if you are a lover of his works, and also know that I never got past the first book.) I had already decided that the series looked kind of cheesy, but one of my friends (a respectable guy) swore by them and I agreed to give it a shot on the condition that he’d, in turn, try the Lord of the Rings, which he’d always put aside as well.
I’m sorry Robert Jordan, but Tolkien got to me, and history in general, first. Everything in Wheel of Time is from Lord of the Rings. There is an Elf, a Ranger, three friends with a sword, a bow and an axe. They have a wise and crabby old-man friend. There is a Dark Sorcerer Lord scouring the kingdom for the Boy with Unexpected Magical Powers. There are even Orcs (“Trollocs”… ugh). And those are just the glaring ‘similarities’. It even had my most hated pet-peeve fantasy/adventure theme cliche, which I will most likely refer to again in posts to come: the “kid who finds out s/he’s the savior of the world for absolutely no reason and plus gets sweet powers” cliche. Otherwise known as the ‘Harry Potter’ theme (or the ‘Naruto’ theme, as I like to call it). Some books are able to utilize this theme in a unique way. ‘WoT’ didn’t.
Some fantasy works I like:
*the Riddle of Time trilogy by Patricia McKillip
*Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind(graphic novel) by Miyazaki Hayao
*Lilith by George MacDonald
*The Water of the Wondrous Isles by William Morris
*Watership Down by Richard Adams (well, it’s sorta fantasy)
*The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer
*The Silmarillion may be even better fantasy than the LotR Trilogy
Obviously, there are more, but if you know any of those titles, maybe you have a clearer picture of how not-Tolkien-y they are. I guess I’m just solidly in the camp (I hope there is one, or I’m gatherin’ firewood all alone) that holds that you just shouldn’t mess with elves and dwarves and rangers any longer, or you will be stomped on by Middle Earth’s mighty boot. Do I hear an “Amen”?
Wow, that all took a turn for the nerd. At any rate, none of those appear in the world I’m crafting. I promise. More later on what will, because I’d like it to be up for a little discussion. Oh, and my Wheel of Time friend “didn’t really get into” Lord of the Rings. He thought they were pretty uncreative.
Well, having called in sick to work the last couple of days while I and the rest of mine suffered in the ancient Chinese “Hell Of Two Families With Many Children All Having The Flu In The Same House” (thrown out of the final script of Big Trouble in Little China) I didn’t get to work on the Schedule until tonight. But before making the actual Schedule, I first had to make a list of all the things that needed to be Scheduled. Without further ado, here they are:
Art design sections:
General design style: artistically unique expressions for basic elements
-Basic environmental theme for each continent
—at least two stages of:
—unique lifeforms (storyline-specific)
-Cultural design theme for each continent
–Individual city/locale layout
>>>Map (if necessary)
(all of above for underwater environment as well)
Vehicles (Continent specific)
-General ideology/design evolution for entire world
-Culturally specific forms of following:
>>city/village ground vehicles
—farming use (carts, plows)
All this must be integrated with story development, which must also be scheduled as much as possible!
Now I’ll be the first to admit that something incorporating all these elements comes out sounding a little “Let’s make a role-playing-game!” I don’t want my beautiful vision bogged down in ridiculous junk like making sure all my background flowers have the same number of petals and can be artistically traced to the chemical production of gunpowder in their story world. But what I do want is a story world with realism and a consistent quality of its own, as well as a template of content I can drag-and-drop from once the actual pages of the book begin to be drawn up. By the way, is “story-world” a real English phrase? It should be if it isn’t. It’s a useful term.
Anyway, I don’t want my vast audience of supporters and critics to think that you can just build a magical world of beauty by encyclopaedically crafting every buttonhole and sword hilt and devising every single word of a fantasy language and birthing entire bloodlines of kings and commonfolk before you even really know what your story is about.
Oh, wait… That’s called the Lord of the Rings. Okay, so you can, but let’s just remember that Frodo was not scientifically designed; he was a work of the heart– of the story giving itself to you without asking for it! The sentence “under a hill there lived a hobbit” (or whatever) was just a daydreaming scribble, and therein lay the magic and attraction of the whole setpiece. Descend from soapbox. All I’m syaing is that I pray my story, though I know and shape its bones, will drape itself in flesh not of my own artificial prompting, but of the story knowing what it needs to be by itself; of the Muse descending upon the toiling note-taker; of God breathing a sweet breath into the pouch still a-mending. But first those bones…