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CN"S Guide to Writing
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Casual Notice
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 10:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your posts have been irrelevant to the topic.

You have repeatedly quoted a parenthetical comment as if it was the meat of my statement.

I'm not nice. I'm bitter and middle-aged. I began my writng career believing deep in my heart that passion was what was important, and that may be the main reason why most of the work I've gotten over twenty years has been for-hire work without even a byline. I don't care about your opinion, because I've had your opinion. It screwed me, and I had to learn everything that I had planned on mentioning here through brutal personal experience and multiple rejections.

I'm trying to teach people how to operate a saw, you want me to tell them where we keep the varnish. There's a pretty basic disjunction there that prevents this from being a productive discussion.

Reply or not. I don't care. I'm going to ignore you from this point forward.
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Trazoi



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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 11:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Regarding passion: I read some great advice relevant to this in a book by David Michael, "The Indie Game Development Survival Guide". Obviously the advice was aimed towards indie game development, but the principle applies to so many other projects.

Basically, for any long term creative project you need the "three Ps": passion, perseverance and pace. Passion is the fuel that gets you started and keeps you going. Perseverance is needed to keep you going over the rough periods. And pace is required to keep going at a sustainable rate; not too soft that you work too slow to finish, and not so hard that you burn out.

Passion can be regarded as both the most and the least important of the three. It's the most important because it's required to spark off the process and to provide the fuel to keep it going. But it's the least important because ieveryone starts with some passion. As David Michael wrote in the book, you wouldn't be here reading this if you didn't have some passion. It's the other two P properties - perseverance and pace - that are rarer. There's many an indie game project or webcomic that starts full of passion, but the creators misjudge how much work it will take, burn themselves out, and/or just get distracted by other things.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 11:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

..


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 12:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

glitchcraft wrote:
But what about skill and talent? Even with all the three P's, a sucky project is still a sucky project.
I think the 3 P's would be more important elements for the artist and his state rather than for the readers and how the work appears to them.

Sure, someone who starts will limited skill will have a sucky project. But a sucky project is better than a dead project. A person with passion, perseverance and pace will gain skill and talent, and while they might need to complete a few sucky projects to hone their abilities they'll eventually be making masterpieces. Someone without those properties won't get anywhere.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 12:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

haikucomics wrote:
or write about a car breaking down in the desert without knowing what happens when a car runs out of oil. I was not trying to get into how much detail the artist showed in the final picture,

Cars don't die in the desert from lack of oil. They overheat, which is possibly related to loss of coolant. It could be from loss of oil, but that's not very likely and could happen anywhere. It's not about detail. It has nothing to do with how much you show. It has to do with not saying anything blatantly wrong. You've just dropped a bunch of mechanics out of your story because you said something in passing which was blatantly wrong. If you don't know anything about cars, do you really know anything about your characters, or reasonable plot developments? Those people will have to try extra hard to restore their faith in you, their guide to your world.

When you say things which are obviously wrong or self-contradictory, you lose credibility. Your world looses that magic suspension of disbelief which is absolutely necessary for art. The audience has to believe in your work, which they can't do if they are constantly questioning your understanding.

Your work doesn't have to be free from error, but the less errors you have, the fewer audience members you'll lose along the way (Strangely enough, being technically accurate can lose people if they don't understand how something really works, which starts the odd game of trying to be technically-accurate and believable-but-technically-inaccurate at the same time). Art is the communication of feeling and ideas. It needs to be communicated, therefore it needs an audience. You can't do anything which loses your intended audience or you lose what the art is. Passion without communication is not art.

Nobody is denying you a role in the debate. You flat out said the original poster was wrong, and that they should have said something completely off-track of their agenda. Casual Notice is not a passionate person, therefore, a lecture on being passionate from Casual would be worthless. Casual does have some technical expertise, which makes his technical advice worth listening to. As he has said, go start your own post about being passionate. Feel free to rip into idiots who think technique is important in art. I'm not being sarcastic. Nobody would be posting on this topic if they weren't passionate already, consider us won over. Casual has also skipped over the very basic topics of choosing a medium, picking a theme, and creating a basic plot. This does not mean they are being ignored. At the very worst, we are assuming they've already been decided and the question is "What to do next?".
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Casual Notice wrote:
munkymu wrote:
I think CN's full of it there. I don't think anyone needs to have any grasp on String Theory, possibly including the physicists.


I said you'd be better off with a some knowledge of those concepts. What I said you have to have a basic understanding of was Newtonian Physics. Seriously, I don't expect anyone to hold a doctor of Physics, but it helps improve a story if the author knows that pushing forward pushes you back.


So basically, we've all spent 5 pages arguing about nothing.

Situation normal!
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 12:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

vulpeslibertas wrote:
Cars don't die in the desert from lack of oil.


A car can die anywhere from a lack of oil. Trust me.

vulpeslibertas wrote:
You flat out said the original poster was wrong


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.


I offered an opinion. I did not state that CN was wrong. I did not state that the advice was bad. I stated that I would have said something different in his place. Why is this such a big deal?


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 12:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Trazoi wrote:
Basically, for any long term creative project you need the "three Ps": passion, perseverance and pace. Passion is the fuel that gets you started and keeps you going. Perseverance is needed to keep you going over the rough periods. And pace is required to keep going at a sustainable rate; not too soft that you work too slow to finish, and not so hard that you burn out.

This sounds to me like the "three P's of a good work ethic for artists," not how to end up with a terrific piece of art. Good advice, but beside the point. Some art doesn't take long enough to make to warrant much Perserverance or self-Pacing. To be a skilled writer you instead need Practice, Purpose (a.k.a theme), and Persuasion. Phraseology, a Plot, Plausibility and Pathos don't hurt either, Presumably.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

haikucomics wrote:
Why is this such a big deal?
I'm not going to quote-and-paste everything you've said. Suffice it to say that, what ever you've been trying to say, you've been coming off as "Why do you keep harping on your point of view, when my point of view is obviously superior in every way?"

Rolling Eyes Not that I've ever come across as an arrogant jackass or anything.
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Trazoi



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jdalton wrote:
This sounds to me like the "three P's of a good work ethic for artists," not how to end up with a terrific piece of art. Good advice, but beside the point. Some art doesn't take long enough to make to warrant much Perserverance or self-Pacing. To be a skilled writer you instead need Practice, Purpose (a.k.a theme), and Persuasion. Phraseology, a Plot, Plausibility and Pathos don't hurt either, Presumably.

True. I got distracted by all the posts about passion in the preceding page. I'd post pointers on penmanship, er, prose, no, writing, but I'm no professional. Ack, the Ps are too much!

I actually clicked on the link because I'm planning the writing of my (first) webcomic, so am interested in the topic but don't really have much in terms of knowledges gained from experience to give. Well, save for general writing tips, like plan ahead and draft the hell out of everything. The whole "passion & the three Ps" thing is advice I share at game development forums, where the other two Ps are crucial. At least with webcomics you can always get something finished regardless of skill level; you could get your new webcomic up and on the internet within the hour. With a computer game, there's a certain time investment before your plans and broken code turns into anything useful.

So yeah, I'll stop sidetracking the thread any more and hopefully it can get back to helping beginner webcomic writers like myself. (Thanks, by the way!)
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 2:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Trazoi, if you're planning an epic and never done a webcomic before, I recommend doing a few MSpaint/stickman comics. You'll learn more from writing those than you will from reading about writing. And now I'm writing about reading about writing, and you're reading it. Now isn't that meta?
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 3:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

vulpeslibertas wrote:
Trazoi, if you're planning an epic and never done a webcomic before, I recommend doing a few MSpaint/stickman comics. You'll learn more from writing those than you will from reading about writing. And now I'm writing about reading about writing, and you're reading it. Now isn't that meta?

An MS Paint comic? I'm more into Inkscape, the tool of beginner vector artists. Not as clumsy or random as raster. An elegant tool for a more civlized age.

I don't want to sidetrack this thread too much by describing my webcomic plans, since my motivations are somewhat... complicated. One big reason for starting a webcomic for me is as a training exercise for all the skills involved: art, writing, website management, sticking to a schedule. I'm also a planner, so I'm running through multiple stages offline before even showing a glimpse to the Internet.

So far I've completed the first stage ("Get the time"). I've narrowed down the next stage,"Decide on the concept", down to two, which I can't choose between. (One will be more abstract geometric art, done in the style of my avatar, but needs a solid story. The other is more gag-a-day in small individual story arcs, but needs more skill in B&W line art.) I'm currently planning on writing up comic bibles and scripts for both ideas, test them out internally to get a feel on what works, then go with the best idea. Of course, at this rate I won't launch until June, but hey, no rush!
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Trazoi wrote:
An MS Paint comic? I'm more into Inkscape, the tool of beginner vector artists. Not as clumsy or random as raster. An elegant tool for a more civlized age.

Yes, but even the Masters use training tools. The idea is you could garner some cheap experience bullseye-img whomprats in your T-16 back home before flying to Yavin and back to blow up the Death Star. On the other hand, it's not like I didn't jump in myself.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

vulpeslibertas wrote:
Trazoi wrote:
An MS Paint comic? I'm more into Inkscape, the tool of beginner vector artists. Not as clumsy or random as raster. An elegant tool for a more civlized age.

Yes, but even the Masters use training tools. The idea is you could garner some cheap experience bullseye-img whomprats in your T-16 back home before flying to Yavin and back to blow up the Death Star. On the other hand, it's not like I didn't jump in myself.

Heh. What I meant is that I'm actually a lot more fluent in Inkscape than any other tool. Besides which I find vector art to be a lot more beginner friendly, as it's more lenient with mistakes. Make a small error in vector, and you can move things around until it's better. With raster you've got to erase and start again. Besides which, I need a tool with layer support. Smile

And, uh, this is really getting away from the topic of writing. Wink
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 3:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Characters 1: Archetypes and Friends

Special Note wrote:
The advice in this segment relates most specifically to ensemble pieces that have multiple characters of more or less equal importance. The tighter the focus of the story, the more researched and detailed the primary characters must be from the beginning.


There are a couple of ways you can go when first creating characters, and these methods are notmutually exclusive, so any blend or combination is possible. The first, and easiest method is to use archetypes. Now an archetype is similar to a stereotype in that both are considered merely two dimensional descriptions; however, an archetyps is only ever meant to be a framework from which to construct a full character. Some fairly standard archetypes include:
  • The Anchor Character—This is usually the calmest and most thoughtful character in the work, and is the one with whom the bulk of the audience identifies, whether they admit it or not. The anchor character is most often the author's surrogate, and the story generally progresses from his point of view. He may have one or two idiosyncracies to differentiate him, but he is never idiosyncratic or particularly neurotic.
  • The Wise Man—This is the person everyone in the ensemble goes to for direction or answers. "Sarge" in old war movies, Gandalf (obviously), basically, anyone whose purpose in the story is to provide wisdom or perspective.
  • The Hero—Classically speaking, a hero is largely altruistic (in the sense that he will sacrifice a lot for his fellows), but generally suffers from the extremely fatal flaw of hubris. Heroes almost never use expedient means to resolve a difficulty.
  • The Anti-hero—This is a person who is just evil enough to use expedient means, but just good enough to do what's necessary to preserve the lives and safety of his fellows. Anyone played by Nicholas Cage or Harrison Ford can be seen as an anti-hero.
  • The Ingenue—This is (usually) a young woman who spends all of her time in danger of one sort or another. She is generally the love interest for one or more of the other characters.
  • The Comic Relief—This term actually covers a number of idiosyncratic characters and traits:
    • The wacky sidekick generally serves as the Jester for the hero or the group, hilighting faults in plans
    • The wise-cracker is similar to the WSK, but tends to be more detached from the group.
    • The Doofus spends a lot of time getting hurt (but not seriously) due to his own errors.
    • The Egoist makes himself funny by his overwhelming (and wholly undeserved) vanity.

This is not an exhaustive list, and more fully developed characters will show traits of any or all of the archetypes available, but it gives a good idea of where characters can begin.

The second source of basic characters is to use your deep personal knowledge of yourself, your friends, and relatives as templates. This is difficult to do because they will (if they read your work) recognize themselves in the characters (or worse, recognize themselves in the wrong characters). Mor to the point is the danger of creating a Mary Sue. It's hard not to assign the Prom Queen's undying eternal love to yourself by proxy. And since she's hot for you, well, then, all of the other girls must be as well. What's even harder to do is portray you loving wife or husband as having ragingly deadly morning breath, or an inability to comprehend concepts you find simplistic (she understands concepts you don't, also, but since you don't understand them, they aren't likely to show up in your story).

The most difficult, yet most satisfying method of creating characters is to let them create themselves. Many of their basic attributes may be described by using archetypal attributes, and the may retain shadings of personalities derived from family, friends, or observation*, but they begin their life more or less on their own and fully fleshed out.

In your bible, describe your characters as best you can. Don't expect all of your readers to know—or even need to know—everything about them. You, however should know, or easily be able to know, everything that any character will do at any given moment. If a grenade is tossed into a group of your characters, you need to know exactly which ones will jump aside, which will jump on the grenade, and which will throw someone else on it—even if that information is a surprise to your readers.

You have to at least know the basics of their character, and be able to refer to those basics.

Footnote wrote:
I cannot put too much stress on the importance of observatiuon to writing characters. Go to bars, coffee shops, restaurants, airports and observe people. Watch them interacting with one another. Watch what they do when they think no one is watching. Listen in to pieces of conversations. Talk to them. You can't write about people unless you know what people (who aren't you) are like.

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