Sunday, February 25, 2007

The update channel

Here I was, all set to do some preview snippets for Bad Luck Inc., but realised it's probably a little too early to start the countdown quite yet. Publication is still at least a month off, and while I've a fair bit to explore I don’t want to peak and exhaust what I have planned for promotional material too early and lose momentum. So this week will be a detailed examination of Descartes' key philosophical writings…

I'm just kidding.

In truth I'm pretty tired and jaded today, but a few good/interesting things have happened over the past week to keep me slipping too far into irritation.

- The games industry continues to give with one hand, and take away with another as I find myself simultaneously embraced and kidney punched by a particular company. Lies, lies and damned lies get dripped into my ear far too often. Just like old times, then. However, this is all meat for the grinder, allowing for more examples of How Things Work in a project I'm working on. While I'm not going to give away all the times I've been angered or mistreated by an industry I've worked within for the past 6 years, this project will certainly lift a few lids. And while I'll be the first to admit this wont change anything, at the very least it will make me feel a hell of a lot better about being pretty much impotent in doing anything about it, prior. Everything is experience and experience is everything.

- Another artist has signed up to work with me for one of my scripts, which has put a smile on my face considering I was starting to think that particular story was cursed. Still a long way to go before I can totally get past that perception, but she's very very good and taken a great interest in the project, which is always a promising sign. As soon as things start to develop, I'll do a showcase on her so you can see some of her work; it's fantastic stuff.

- If you've known me for a while or been reading this blog for any duration, you'll likely know of the frustration involved in getting fiction published (both for myself and in general). It's a long, painful process that can be hamstrung by a number of different factors, many of which I've seemed to come across in the last year and a half; the publisher going bust, the editors not communicating with their staff (or each other), losing artists, illness, unforeseen circumstances, equipment failure, crossed wires, brains going pop… you wonder what's going to be around the next corner. Well, this weekend I experienced pretty much the opposite (so far) to the prolonged frustration of publication and creation. A publisher was looking for writers for a new webcomic project where creators send in their stories and their artist(s) does them; however, the twist is this – the stories can only be between 4 and 6 PANELS. Not pages, PANELS. So we're talking super short stories that can be read literally within a minute or so. Micro stories.

Now, I love this sort of challenge. Anything which stretches my storytelling is a welcome push. So when I saw the ad, a few switches instantly started to flip on in my brain. I mulled it around my head for a short while, went to have a shower (guaranteed to give me ideas – simply because there's no way I can write them down while showering. It's a similar process to getting in the bath if you want the phone to ring), came out with a ton of ideas and wrote the story within an hour. Spent another hour editing it, then sent it off. Got a reply a few hours later from one of the editors saying they'd love to use it, and it should be published within the next couple months.

Wow.

For frame of reference, this is how the creative and publishing process usually goes by comparison:

I get an idea. Make some notes.

I develop it over the space of several weeks, along with research.

I create a full issue or large snippet for editor consumption within the month.

The editor gets back to me anytime within a week to another month.

If I need an artist, I spend another 1 to 5 months trying to get one.

The artwork is finished around 2-4 months later.

Publication MAY follow (if everything has gone right) within the following 2-3 months.

So we're talking over a year on average for effectively one story to get off the ground. This is standard for me, being an indie writer – a pro would obviously have less hassle, although that brings its own complications – so an accepted process. So you can imagine how refreshing it was to get all of that done in less than a day, with publication in less than 2 months. Of course, it's a far shorter story hence the reason why it's so quick (it also happens to be the most depressing story I've ever written – which is to say, it's REALLY bleak stuff) but it's nice to experience fewer problems after 2 years of constant ones.

And writing a story of that length really is very interesting; it's like having to write a short story under 1,000 words, but the 'language' of comic books allow for certain advantages and disadvantages. One thing that became very clear is that if you want a short webcomic story to have a clear beginning, middle and end, you have to boil the story down to its bare essentials. Everything is shrunk to fit the space limitation and you wont get to know the character too much but what you DO know about them has to be essential. 'Plot' becomes almost a side-effect to 'story'. And dialogue is stripped to either being the essence of the story or reduced to almost like a highlight reel. It's a fascinating process.

What I tried to do with my story (which I'll go into more detail when it's published) is offer some metatextuality and depth to a format that doesn’t allow large parts of either. So to try and take advantage of the story format and almost literally put the reader inside the character.

Guess we'll find out if it works or not in a couple months.

Next week, if things go to plan, I'll start some Bad Luck Inc. promo shots.

4 comments:

Therine said...

Glad things are going so well and you've managed to smile.Good news about the artist.I had suggested to Jac that she could do some trials.You can imagine her answer to that.

Therine

Writing Gaijin said...

Ha, I'm not sure if such an answer would be repeatable for publication... ;) xx

Jac said...

Hi,

The new webcomic sounds interesting!! I hope you can get more work in that line - sounds more immediately rewarding :-)

Can't wait to see the Bad Luck inc..

love jac xx

Writing Gaijin said...

Cheers - although the micro story isn't paying and unlikely to be something that occurs too often on my part, it's certainly something I'd be happy to keep doing if the chances pop up. Getting my work and name out there is always tricky, but slow headway is being made.

Actually, related to that, very large comic book site Silver Bullet Comic Books linked to here this week (http://www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com/rage/index1.htm) which I'm pretty grateful for (cheers Steve!) - so I'll be minding my p's and q's, as we have guests... *passes around the biscuits and beers* ;) xx