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Author Topic: The Writers' Block  (Read 17374 times)

The Legendary Shark

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Re: The Writers' Block
« Reply #15 on: 22 November, 2014, 03:04:16 pm »
Jaws is my favourite film of all time.

The Legendary Shark

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Re: The Writers' Block
« Reply #16 on: 01 December, 2014, 06:52:59 pm »
Okay then, sod planning. How about action?
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Does anyone else find that balancing action is a tricky thing? Too much or too little can ruin a story. When James Bond's mangling a train with a JCB or Spock's beating seven shades out of Kahn on the back of flying whatchamacallit, it's all very thrilling but the plot's basically stalled until we find out who wins the fight.
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I personally find "all-action" stories quite dull because they tend to go action, action, action, plot, action, action, action, plot, plot, plot, action, action, action, action, action, plot (all those Steven Segal films, for instance).
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I think the best films (Raiders of the Lost Ark, for example) have more regular beats of action, plot, action, plot, action, plot, action, plot.
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Of course, the best way is to mix plot with action but, as we're talking comics here - how much "conversation" is it okay to put into a fight scene? I remember reading some Marvel comics as a kid and thinking that all these superheroes were either talking very fast or fighting very slowly. A lot of the time it was frankly ridiculous, with the villain having time to reveal his evil plan in minute detail only for the hero to explain back, again in minute detail, how the villain's plan will be thwarted - all between punches! But is there any more to be said for a page full of scrapping with no dialogue at all? Plot-wise, is that a 'non-page' and just an excuse for the artist to show off?
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To be honest, I do like giving my artists the opportunity to show off - preferably with an action page.
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Then again, is action just car chases, dogfights and fisticuffs? Or is action literally any movement - from a creeping snail (remember Sam Neil waiting on his horse for the snail to cross the road because it had "right of way"?) to an exploding galaxy?
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As comic writers, how do we regard and handle action? I'm increasingly of the opinion that should be some action in every frame - something moving, somewhere - preferably someone moving. Even if the character's alone with his thoughts in the back of a taxi he should be cleaning his gun, fiddling with the window or picking his nose or something - anything other than just sitting there. These details can be left up to the artist but pointing out certain small actions can, I think, deepen a script and help us cut out as much of that pesky dialogue as possible!
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So - anybody want to discuss action? What it is, how to use it, when to use it and so on?

The Legendary Shark

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Re: The Writers' Block
« Reply #17 on: 29 March, 2015, 12:49:05 pm »
Okay, so sod action, too.
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Seems a shame to waste a perfectly good thread title so how about we turn it into a place where writers can show off? We are writers, after all, and we like to have our words read. If we didn't, what would be the point - right?
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Anyway, a poem:
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On Tribalism.
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Why are we so tribal,
In this modern age?
Why do we accept that,
War is all the rage?
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Leader A and Leader B,
Must fight for this or that,
Under one flag or another,
Like a dog or like a cat.
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We must choose a side, they say,
Support or keep it zipped,
You're either with us or against us,
Idolised or whipped.
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It's a certain type to blame, you know,
For all our country's woes,
Not them who think like thee and me,
But villains, cads and foes.
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It's the Russians, it's the Muslims,
It's New Labour, it's the Jews,
Asylum seekers, migrants,
The spooks who write the news.
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It's the bankers, it's the MPs,
It's business folk or Fate,
The only thing we know for sure -
It isn't *my* fault, mate!
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Stop being so tribal,
Don't go where you are led,
Renounce the party, quit the team,
Join the human race instead.

blackmocco

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Re: The Writers' Block
« Reply #18 on: 29 March, 2015, 04:30:29 pm »
Oi! I'm reading, Shark! There's plenty to talk about.

Yes, writing is harder than drawing, I think, for the very reasons you state. It's easy to see when you've drawn a duff fucking hand (not saying it's always easy to fix it, mind you) but writing is such a weird process, like spinning plates, that sometimes you can't see where you've gone wrong until you're knee deep into it.

I'm like you, I like to write but my processes - if I can be so bold as to call them that - are maddening. Planning's important, I've learned over time, but too much planning kills my enthusiasm for it. Stephen King talks about this in his EXCELLENT book On Writing: Essentially it's good to have an idea where your story/characters are going to go but don't be so rigid with those ideas that you can't surprise yourself by changing them. His process sounds pretty organic and pliable.
"...and it was here in this blighted place, he learned to live again."

www.BLACKMOCCO.com
www.BLACKMOCCO.blogspot.com

The Legendary Shark

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Re: The Writers' Block
« Reply #19 on: 30 March, 2015, 12:43:52 am »
I think you're right. A plan must be strong enough to stop me writing myself into a corner or taking a wrong turn but loose enough to adapt should I encounter an unexpected opportunity. It's not easy, sometimes. My plans often evolve alongside the story itself; like using a road-map - you spot a place you want to visit on the way and plan a detour, kind of thing. My plans generally aren't all that detailed in order to allow for diversions. I find it's generally the shorter stories which need the most detailed plans because you need to get everything you need into a small space; longer stories have more scope for growth. That's how it seems to work for me, anyway.

Montynero

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Re: The Writers' Block
« Reply #20 on: 31 March, 2015, 10:07:05 am »
One of the first things I realised when writing comics was how boring action is. I mean, I love action - the kinetic flow of it across the page - but it really means nothing after a panel or two unless there's something emotional at stake, some simultaneous character or plot development. Then it's cool.

Same thing applies to films. I think many people have been bored by the CGI action fests ending most Hollywood blockbusters of late. Whereas in Jaws every action beat reveals character, and the tension is amped by the absence of CGI and the limitations on the filming process. CGI enables filmmakers to do anything, so they do nothing. They seem to get giddy with the animatic possibilities and overcook it completely.

CGI rarely feels real to me. Whereas if you feel you are genuinely watching something that happened, something dangerous or unexpected, like Indy hanging off going under the lorry in Raiders, then pure cinematic action can hold you spellbound. Comics aren't the best medium for that. Comics are all about the resonances between moments, between words and pictures. Comics can simultaneously tell you how something felt, smelt, looked, sounded and tasted, so it's much easier to develop character during an action sequence in comics than in film. You could block out the action visually, and then bring in something entirely different through the prose. Or you could intercut each panel with another scene, shedding new light on both.

Whenever I've spoken to Marvel eds about comics, they're primarily interested in character: what the character arc is, what your take is on the character and their various relationships. The action set pieces are never the focus. I find that very pleasing.

The Legendary Shark

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Re: The Writers' Block
« Reply #21 on: 31 March, 2015, 10:23:03 am »
I think you're spot-on, Monty. The poorer stories mistake motion for action, I feel. When two characters are fighting on the roof of a speeding train it can be very exciting but it's got to mean something. If the opponent is just some cardboard character with no other purpose than to show us how tough the hero is or to liven up the narrative, then what's the point?
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Action can be a fight on the roof of a speeding train or a single footstep. I think action, true storytelling action, is motion with meaning. There must be some action otherwise any story is just talking heads but too much and it becomes meaningless spectacle. Finding the correct balance is the hard part, I find.

The Legendary Shark

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Re: The Writers' Block
« Reply #22 on: 01 April, 2015, 06:29:52 am »

Montynero

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Re: The Writers' Block
« Reply #23 on: 01 April, 2015, 10:25:32 am »
Or "8 reason's Why Authors Should Man Up and Act with Some Professionalism". Jeez. Who cares if the guys hungry or somebody didn't like parts of his work. That kind of thing happens every day, for every working person. People all over the world deal with it and act politely. Why the hell should authors get a special pass?

Didn't Alan Moore say writers are  more likely than not to go mad at some point? I think Rich did that interview in FutureQuake. Maybe someone can furnish the full quote, I'm half remembering it. The bottom line is sitting at home contemplating your own work for years on end is not good for you. Writers need to get out and live as interesting and varied a life as possible. Otherwise they'll soon run out of relevant things to write about.
« Last Edit: 01 April, 2015, 10:27:55 am by Montynero »

Professor Bear

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Re: The Writers' Block
« Reply #24 on: 01 April, 2015, 11:05:50 am »
On people not liking your work, I deal with criticism by factoring it into one of two definitions: constructive or negative.
Constructive criticism is merely an observation how your work can improve, but annoyingly has to be contextualised within the creative preferences of the critic, ie: a fan of manga may complain that your characters sound human and have motivations that make sense.  Your work will always be evolving even if you don't know it, so it makes sense to be making it evolve as you want or need it to so that you're improving rather than just picking up bad habits.
Negative criticism - which sometimes masquerades as constructive criticism - exists merely to make you or others feel bad about your work.  You can usually spot this quite easily because it'll come with some form of comment pointing out - if not actually explaining in detail - why you're a douchebag.  You should dismiss this kind of criticism immediately and remember that it's not your fault - they nailed Jesus to a tree and that guy did almost everything right, so you don't have a hope of escaping dismissal by an asshole or two somewhere in your career.

Plus you always have to remember that your work just might not be for everyone.  You can write the greatest novel of all time and some people still won't read it because it's about a footballer - to this day I refuse to acknowledge that The Old Man And The Sea might be worth a read because fishing is for wankers.
« Last Edit: 01 April, 2015, 11:07:40 am by Bear "Bear" McBear (bear) »

The Legendary Shark

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Re: The Writers' Block
« Reply #25 on: 01 April, 2015, 12:18:54 pm »
I read The Old Man and the Sea for the first time just a few weeks ago. I thought it was a good story but needed polish.
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I do like a good critique - the author's development youwriteon.com is good for those. You post your work there and review each other, one for one. I like the reviews where people enjoy my stories and gush about them (few and far between, in my case) and also the ones where readers point out what they didn't like and why (I get lots of these) but occasionally you get one where the reader has obviously just skimmed through and criticises things that don't exist. I had one review where the reviewer admitted to having stopped reading half-way through and then criticised the ending because 'it was going to be obvious.' All one can do with those reviews is laugh.
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locustsofdeath!

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Re: The Writers' Block
« Reply #26 on: 01 April, 2015, 02:48:36 pm »
I read The Old Man and the Sea for the first time just a few weeks ago. I thought it was a good story but needed polish.

I'm sure if Hemingway were alive today, you'd straighten him out with some pro tips.  ;)

I, Cosh

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Re: The Writers' Block
« Reply #27 on: 01 April, 2015, 03:54:33 pm »
The film's pretty good.
We never really die.

The Legendary Shark

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Re: The Writers' Block
« Reply #28 on: 01 April, 2015, 04:28:27 pm »
And I'm sure Mr Hemingway would give me a well-deserved punch in the face for my impertinence!

The Legendary Shark

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Re: The Writers' Block
« Reply #29 on: 02 April, 2015, 08:57:01 am »
Here's the ninth reason why authors are assholes; shameless self-promotion.
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I will probably never be able to say this again in my lifetime but - I'm Number One!
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I'm not ashamed to say this kind of thing feels good, just as a bad review feels bad. I think it's okay to experience these emotions but it would be a mistake to dwell on either. They're just highs and lows along the way. In a hundred seconds, who's gonna care, right?
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Reason 10: Talking bollocks.