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Are your characters writing YOUR comic?
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Clint Wolf



Joined: 15 Apr 2010
Posts: 298

PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wrote my take on the subject for my site blog this week. Long story short, I've never felt like the inmates are running the asylum... they don't have the proper perspective beyond themselves, so it's my job to keep a handle on everyone and make sure the story keeps moving along. Otherwise I feel like more of a secretary than a writer.

Long story long: http://www.zombieranchcomic.com/2012/07/25/puppet-or-puppeteer/
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katastrophe



Joined: 19 Aug 2008
Posts: 287

PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's funny this topic should pop back up, as I recently had a discussion with my husband about characters talking to you and writing the story. He said he'd never had anything like that happen and (until he read a writer blog saying "my characters never write things") felt vaguely that he wasn't a real writer because of it, and he was curious about the mechanics.

The "not a real writer" bit is certainly wrong. The way I see stories, there are four basic elements -- the building block ingredients, if you will -- to each: plot, setting, character, and style. We all have all four but for most of us there's one or two elements that stand out, the elements that drive the rest of the story. For my husband, and plenty of other writers, it's plot. The characters do what the plot demands. And this is fine: I love a good action story as much as anyone. But for me, it's character (and somewhat setting). I don't start with a series of events; I start with people and a world, and if I'm lucky, after I doodle around with them for a bit, the plot shows up. This isn't a more or less valid method of writing. It's just how I work.

As for the mechanics, I'm not sure I explained well even with a sympathetic audience and a lot of hand gestures, but I'll try.

It's not exactly true to say that the characters "talk" to you, or that they're writing the story. I am sane, or at least, sane enough to realize these are not actual people. They're my creations and I control them. But... not always consciously. A huge amount of the story-making process goes on below the conscious level for me. Getting stuff to pop up into my conscious mind is always a bit of a struggle (I have pages and pages of brainstorming that is, in essence, my conscious mind trying to force my subconscious to give up the goods), but when something does pop out of the mysterious depths, it's ten times better than what my conscious mind could make up. It has... depth, and roundness, and... argh, no words for this. It's a real lie. Very Happy My conscious mind can construct a perfectly reasonable sequence of events, but only my subconscious can tell a story.

That doesn't mean it's a good story. My subconscious writes, as it were, in shorthand, leaving huge gaps where my personal experience can fill in the details, filling in bits of story that don't particularly interest it with regurgitated stereotypes. So the conscious bit of writing, for me, is largely editing, trimming the bits where I've let characters ramble on and on into story-appropriate dialogue, filling in the blank spots so that it all makes sense to people outside my head, catching the shortcuts and filling them in with something more interesting. When things are going smoothly I do feel, as Clint says, that I'm just the secretary, listing in and taking notes as the characters tell -- not me, but each other -- their stories. But things don't go that smoothly very often. Very Happy More often it's like... I don't know. Fishing. Or tennis, constantly watching the ball come back in different shapes and colors, taking the useful parts, bouncing what's left back over the net for another go. Or smacking something stubborn repeatedly with a hammer. But I've learned the hard way not to let the editor, as it were, write the book, because the parts that I do the easy way, by simply working out what logically comes next, are... sterile. Sensible. The stories are functional enough, but there's no particular reason for anyone to read them and not, say, an anatomy textbook.

I suppose that's why I haven't responded to this post before. For me, "are your characters writing your story?" is the wrong question. Of course they are -- or at least, my subconscious is, and character actions and voices are the framework my particular subconscious sends me to build everything else on. That's not a useful question. "How do you get them to write well?" is, maybe, although I'm not sure I have the answer. Or perhaps "how do you make them stop?" Very Happy
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Lavenderbard
^_^


Joined: 12 Sep 2006
Posts: 845
Location: Ohio

PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 1:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

katastrophe wrote:
"How do you get them to write well?" is, maybe, although I'm not sure I have the answer. Or perhaps "how do you make them stop?" Very Happy


I don't want them to stop, exactly, but if they'd slow down and let me catch up, that would be nice.
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Marscaleb



Joined: 28 Aug 2012
Posts: 258

PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 7:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's often a lot that surprises me when I am writing. Not so much my webcomic, as it has just started, but other stories I've been writing in the past.
To me, it's not like "the characters are writing themselves" but rather that I'm witnessing the story the same as everyone else. I may know a few details not yet revealed, and I get to to see the story first and I have to clean up a few bits and connect a few patches before others can see the story, but when you get down to it, I'm just a member of the audience like everyone else. The story can surprise and shock me. I could go the whole time not knowing about certain events -either backstory or forthcoming- that come to surprise me just the same as everyone else.
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Bill Murphy



Joined: 22 Aug 2012
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm a daydreamer. And what I do is imagine my characters in different situations and I let their stories and punch lines unfold in my mind. Then I convert it into a single strip.

While drawing I feel like a director trying to get the actors to express the right emotion. "No! You look shocked. I need you to look sad. NOT THAT SAD! Oh wait. That expression is pretty good for a gag I have planned for next week."
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joedozer



Joined: 26 Jun 2012
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 6:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Something I noticed in Bioshock, when I was making adjustments in the options menu, the character models were listed as "actors". i thought that was a cool choice of words, and it shows how much respect the developers had for the characters in the game, even the expendable ones.

What makes mediums like movies and TV great is that because actors bring themselves to a role, it adds a dimension to the work no one else could really foresee just from writing. I like to think characters in any format, even if they aren't being portrayed by actors are still acting. While it's important to endow your characters with traits, wants and needs, you'll find that they will in turn give you a better sense of who they are as a person in return. Whether or not the characters are doing the writing for you depends on your vision as a writer, but there's no doubt that the people you create bring you something you didn't bring yourself.
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TheEpicBeyond



Joined: 25 Sep 2012
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 5:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I've written stories in the past some of my best ideas come from whims i've had at the moment I was writing.
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