Friday, November 23, 2012

Who Do We Listen To When We Write?

I have had the pleasure of meeting a few different authors this year. I've also had several English and literature teachers in my life. They all have knowledge about how and what to write that they shared with me and, I am sure, many others. The author's methods certainly got them somewhere, and my teachers each taught me different ways to approach what I was writing. Whether that was message, grammar, or plot, they certainly offered me some of the basics of writing.

One author who I interviewed for an upcoming Penumbra issue said to write a page a day. It's something that has stuck with me. I've been gathering notes (a page a day) for my chosen book, so that in January I will be ready for my personal novel writing month with my friend. While helpful in moving in a direction of actually completing something, it's not very inspirational for what to write about.

Inspiration often comes from somewhere else. A hobby you're interested in, a genre of books you read, or in my case graphic novels and comics. I read over 100 different web comics and follow them religiously. I recently started putting together a Pinterest board with some of the better ones.

In the beginning of November I attended Youmacon in Detroit, Michigan. Youmacon is an anime convention held every year the week after Halloween. When I was there I had the lovely chance to meet one of my favorite web comic artists. Michael Terracciano, better known as Mookie, he is the creator of the long running web comic Dominic Deegan: Oracle for Hire. He gave a presentation called, Writing Unique Heroes and Memorable Villains.

I first saw the presentation in 2011 and saw it again this year because I had been so entertained the first time. Mookie has a bit of the theatrical spirit in his bones and does his presentation well, especially when explaining what sort of stories he loves and hates. I can't replicate his tone or the enthusiasm he displayed when acting out various characters on stage. However, his main points were these:

1. Get the girl friend out from behind the wall (AND FOR GODS SAKE PUT SOME CLOTHES ON HER!)

2. Use the intellectual victory when possible (for no other reason than that it is impressive).

3. People have random quirks, so should your characters. Something that makes people care about the characters and how they are doing. It gives a person something to relate to, to find a bit of themselves inside the character you make.

4. Your hero, villain, or bad-ass-bruiser does not need to have the only thing he or she has ever cared about blown up, killed, or destroyed in some other manner for them to take action.

There may have been more, but these are the bits that really sat in my mind. If I go to Youmacon again next year and he is there I will be in the crowd again, watching getting my dose of inspiration and entertainment from a man I truly respect as both a story teller and an artist.

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