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CN"S Guide to Writing
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haikucomics



Joined: 17 Feb 2009
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Location: Long Beach, CA

PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2009 8:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Must all those who disagree with you—by the fact of their disagreement—be considered horrible people who want to "shut down opinons"?


No, but no serious response to my opinion was offered by either comment. Both just implied that I somehow didn't "get" the topic. That is rather condescending and unnecessary.

Quote:
I would suggest you work on your reading comprehension before commenting, however. Since your second paragraph in your original post started as a disputation of the bolded portion (but not the body) of one of my points.


Again, this is dismissive. You are implying that I did not read or did not understand what you wrote. Just as the other poster implied that I did not understand the intention of the thread by emphasizing to me that it is a "guide." I understood you perfectly. I did not agree. Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that you wrote this guide. It offers a lot worth discussing. However, you do discourage discussion by being implying that other posters just don't "get" the topic. But I'm not interested in arguing further about it. I don't want to derail your thread. It just seems to me that if a poster offers another point of view, it might be better if one assumes that the poster is not an idiot when one responds.
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ttallan
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2009 8:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If I tried to explain how I write I would probably end up sounding like a nut. I know the theories but I think in the end what it comes down to in my head is "well, this just, I dunno, feels right." Useless, I know. All I know is I write stuff and some people seem to like it. I guess that's enough to run with. Smile

What I find interesting, though, and would love to discuss, is how the writing process differs between the more traditional novel and a comic. I'm not really a novelist even though that was my original goal-- I never completed a novel. But some of you out there have... do you find writing for comics very different? I've got plot outlines and character bibles and scripts by chapter and all these things ready to construct my story, but when it gets down to laying it on the page I often find I need to alter it to make it work better with the pictures. Or maybe I'll just come up with a better idea. I know this happens all the time when you're writing novels, but if you change your mind mid-novel you can always go back and fix the earlier bits. You can make a new draft. But you really can't do that with a comic. Even if you're not publishing each new page at a time, going back and making major adjustments is out of the question. After you've invested that much time in making the first draft, you're not going to do it over*. You're stuck with what you've got and you've got to make it work! It's almost like a game. Plus, the length of time it takes to move the story forward makes it real challenging to keep all the details straight, no matter how many notes you keep. And then there's the added matter of trying to keep each installment interesting enough for the readers to come back for more.

I'm quite sure if I'd continued with my first plan of writing a novel, I'd have ended up with a very, very different story.


*OK, it just hit me that this is exactly what I did. Twice. Pardon me whilst I go beat my head against the wall...
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Casual Notice
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2009 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wasn't implying it. I was saying it outright. You didn't understand what your read (or you didn't read past the first few bolded words of the paragraph) but you felt the need to opine, anyway.

In response to a paragraph on studying and understanding your subject matter you wrote:
haikucomics wrote:
And I think "write what you know," while often given as advice, is a little misleading. I offer this instead: Write what you feel compelled to write. That is, don't write what you think other might want to read. Don't develop characters because you think they are marketable or will connect with a certain demographic. Don't engineer a plot point because it's how some other well regarded author writes. Do it only if you feel compelled to.


That leads to only two logical assumptions. Either you didn't read the paragraph you're disputing in the lead sentence, or you didn't understand it. Either way, your lead sentence quickly devolves into a rant on "writing for the audience", which dismisses my points entirely.
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haikucomics



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2009 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Casual Notice wrote:
That leads to only two logical assumptions. Either you didn't read the paragraph you're disputing in the lead sentence, or you didn't understand it. Either way, your lead sentence quickly devolves into a rant on "writing for the audience", which dismisses my points entirely.


No, I got it. You are saying that if someone doesn't know a lot about a subject, they shouldn't write about it. Or if they want to write about it, they should learn everything they can about it. I do not agree. I realize that I am blowing your mind right now, but it's true. I don't think that is very useful advice.

Let's look at a real, wildly successful comic: Naruto. I have fallen in love with Naruto. (And anyone who wants to dismiss Naruto should consider that every new volume hits the New York Times bestseller list for a reason.) I'm up to about volume eight and the story is delightful. But, you know what it is not? Accurate. All the rules about ninjas and martial arts are just made up and have nothing to do with the real world. Now, I know you would argue that the author clearly knows his world in that instance. Of course he does. But I doubt he started writing the story because he knew he could understand the world of Naruto. He wrote it because he felt compelled to. Getting to know his story evolved out of that.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with starting a story and having no idea where it's going to go, only that you are in love with the idea of it and it is bringing you joy to express it. Of course you will get to know it, but I don't think knowing it is a prerequisite to writing it. If it was, art making would be boring indeed.
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Gregori
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2009 10:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

naw naw naw bro, why you get so neg?
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munkymu
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You need to know enough about something, whether you experienced it yourself or whether you researched it, to make it *believeable*. If it's not believeable, the only people who will enjoy that bit of writing are those who know very little about the topic.

Say you know very little about computers. You can have a comic where computers don't appear, or appear very peripherally and that would work. Or you could figure out what role computers play in our society or people would like them to play and you could create a world that's clearly different from ours where you have computers fulfilling these functions but in a different way from real life, and if you did that consistently then it would also probably work. But the second you tried to write gags about real technology, you'd fall flat on your face because you don't have the knowledge to make it believeable.
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Lavenderbard
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ttallan wrote:
What I find interesting, though, and would love to discuss, is how the writing process differs between the more traditional novel and a comic. I'm not really a novelist even though that was my original goal-- I never completed a novel. But some of you out there have... do you find writing for comics very different? I've got plot outlines and character bibles and scripts by chapter and all these things ready to construct my story, but when it gets down to laying it on the page I often find I need to alter it to make it work better with the pictures. Or maybe I'll just come up with a better idea. I know this happens all the time when you're writing novels, but if you change your mind mid-novel you can always go back and fix the earlier bits. You can make a new draft. But you really can't do that with a comic. Even if you're not publishing each new page at a time, going back and making major adjustments is out of the question. After you've invested that much time in making the first draft, you're not going to do it over*.


Writing for comics is much much much shorter. I doubt that my 240 page comic epic would get me more than 40K words in prose format. But creating the actual artwork takes much much much longer. (At least for me. I guess that guy who does Groo doesn't have that problem?)

First I scripted, then I storyboarded, and now I'm doing the actual art, and then I plan to revise. Scent of Spring's going to get an extra step where I do the coloring. That's an extra step (or two) compared to when I'm writing prose... but it's not more steps than some other writers I know use.


And yes, I've been making changes at every stage so far. And I plan to go back and make more changes, when I've finished this stage.

I doubt there will be any major changes to the plotline, though. That's largely because I never do have major changes to my plots. Whatever story I end up with the first time through, I seem to be stuck with. But also, I've been trying to get feedback at every stage of the process. I talk people into reading the script. I bribe people to look over the storyboards... I hope to be hunting down betareaders for the Scent of Spring pencils by this time next year. By the time the story goes live, I ought to know exactly what is and what is not wrong with it, and have decided that I can live with it as it stands.

(Just to get an idea of how much changing I do, for Black Flag I added one entire chapter when I went from script to storyboard, and another entire chapter after I had people read the storyboards. I think I've rewritten over half the dialog, and it looks like I'll be doing some major rewrites to the first chapter at the very least, now that I've had people looking at the actual art.) :shrug:

I'm... um... not noticing that I'm having that much problem keeping track of details. I think maybe because of the way I work all the way through the story beginning to end at each step?
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Metruis
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Casual Notice wrote:
Metruis wrote:
If I wrote what I know I'd have to write about a teenage girl who sits on the computer, cleans toilets and occasionally laughs at video game jokes even though she hasn't played the game.

I wrote:
that doesn't mean that if you're a high school kid living in Northfield Minnesota that you should only write about high school in the Minneapolis suburbs. But it does mean you should make an effort to understand your subject as much as possible.


I'm not seeing a conflict.

I didn't see a conflict either, and I didn't say it, I was just expanding on the topic. Must this thread be 'and we all listen to what Casual Notice has to say and say nothing about what we think about writing advice in general'? Crying or Very sad
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Lavenderbard
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Metruis wrote:
I didn't see a conflict either, and I didn't say it, I was just expanding on the topic. Must this thread be 'and we all listen to what Casual Notice has to say and say nothing about what we think about writing advice in general'? Crying or Very sad


Can't be. That would mean, at the very least, keeping the thread on topic. And when do we ever keep a thread on topic?
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Doogl McDoog
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2009 12:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

..


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ttallan
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2009 12:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Casual Notice wrote:
More to the point for comickers, I have a four-year-old webcomic that, while constantly slammed for its below-par artwork, is generally congratulated for the quality of the writing.

OK, CN, you have inspired me to go diving into your archive! I went to your site... it took me several minutes to locate your archive... but that might just be me being blind. Whatever. Anyway, after I found it the archive only seems to go up to 2007? Were you on hiatus for a really long time?

I'd like to try some of it out, but I'll be honest and admit I'm unlikely to go through 4 years worth of archive. Also, the more recent strips have a much more readable font than the old ones, so I'd rather try something newer. Howzabout you point me to a good place to jump in? Smile
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thestripedone
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2009 1:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Regarding Naruto: The NY Times Bestseller list is not a good example of "well-written," just an example of "Best-selling." A lot of the fiction on there is absolute garbage. (e.g. Twilight)

Also, just because something is popular doesn't necessarily mean it's good. (e.g. Twilight, again.)

I'm not exactly sure Naruto is really good example of "no research done" in any case. The author of it obviously has *some* idea about ninja, or things in it would be drastically different. Yes, it's not exactly realism, but considering it's aimed at Japanese teenagers, how surprising is that? Teenagers in general are not exactly strict believers in historicity.

Then again, I also think Naruto is fairly shitty. So I may be biased. Razz
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Doogl McDoog
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2009 1:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

..


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vulpeslibertas
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2009 2:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd like to point something out here also. Writing what you know counts not only personal experience and research, but what you've made up and told the audience.

You don't have to understand Newton's laws to write a compelling space epic, but if you follow them in one point and ignore them in another you will hurt your world's consistency. There are several points where my comic departs from both real history and mythology. My notes help me keep track of what's possible and how things are supposed to work. The most important part of being an informed writer is consistency.

Naruto may or may not be a horrible bottom-of-the-New York Times list animanga, but at least I know that it will always be possible to carry giant man-sized shuriken and that it's absolutely necessary to explain your every move. I won't tune in next week and find out Naruto is the human prison of the Terror Space Dragon, or that he hates ramen. Not that these kinds of sporadic series haven't existed, but consistency is important - for every deviation there should be a reason.

Even poor Doctor Watson, who's old army injury moved about always had an old injury. And it was never a plot point that his trick knee gives way while running on the railroad tracks. Star Trek changes how things work from episode to episode, yet still has some standards of consistency. Errors are usually with the finer points of technology, not the characters or their relationships.

Generally speaking, even if you've completely made your stuff up, the better you know it, the better off you are.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2009 2:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think some people are missing the point of the phrase "write what you know." In some genres, it's a fair cop, things like historical accuracy and realistic physics are NOT necessary to tell a good story. If you took the afforementioned 10,000BC and disguised it as fantasy, called it "A Really Long Time Ago Or Something" and changed Egypt and Atlantis out for the mythical lands of Tpyge and Sitnalta, I would probably have considered it brilliant. Giant carnivorous birds and mammoths building (non-specific) triangular monuments! Holy crap that's awesome!

But what should not be negotiated away, ESPECIALLY in so-called escapist genres like sci-fi and fantasy, is the characterization. Your characters must, must, must behave in a believable way. They must feel and act like real people, and this can only be done effectively by "writing who you know." The research for this needs to be your own life experience. If your own real life is too boring to turn into a story, don't worry. 80% of the population is just like you, and 19% of the remainder can't write worth a damn. But a good writer must live as much as he or she can- leave the basement, turn off the computer, go out and do stuff and (most importantly) meet and interact with interesting people, because without that, no amount of research on Wikipedia will help your story writing ability.

I say this as someone who didn't "leave the basement" until age 21. Then I moved halfway round the world and my writing got 1000x better.
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