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matthewart
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Post by matthewart » Thu Mar 01, 2007 11:00 am

I think every single how to write or how to be a story teller give the same advice.

Master short story's first. Or something like that

Short stories are great. You learn so much just completing one. You learn to be mastah story teller. If you can't make a 20 pager work you sure won't make a 200 pager work.

They are right. Definitely rough out your whole story before you spend all that time and energy making it final.

You might try... After you've roughed out and know what your story is... sit down with a friend. Tell your story in five minutes or less. You'll see if your story works or not on they're faces. If a story doesn't work in five minutes, will making it any longer make it work. Maybe... maybe not.
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thirdeyeh
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Post by thirdeyeh » Sat Mar 03, 2007 9:06 am

Ok, so then short stories are a good way to start to most people, but when does one feel that they are ready to move on to a bigger project?

See most people are thinking of a graphic novel as around 200 pages, but right now my book when it is all said and done should be around 5 volumes and 200 pages each, meaning about 1000 pages. I know I'm aiming for the fence with this one, but I love the story and the characters. But would it be wiser to keep that story on the back burner for a while and continue to develop it, while focusing on smaller stuff? It could better prepare me for such a challenge as this monster book if I had spent a little while honing my skills (like my nunchuck skills) I suppose. Or even just thinking around the lines of 100 page graphic novel (which to me is kinda short) and would take me a round a year or so to finish. I just struggle to wrap my head around stories that last ten pages. I don't think that way. I've tried to think more along those lines, but inevitably the story will just expand and expand. Such as this chocolate, doctors and ESP story I mentioned. It was meant to be something short, but has quickly turned into a huge story. I would love to hear what you guys take as an approach to thinking of short stories and creating them. Thanks for all of the posts so far it's really been helping me with this internal debate.
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Og
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Post by Og » Sat Mar 03, 2007 10:39 am

I've lived with this internal debate, and believe me, it can go on for DECADES. It has with me.

I think the best thing to do is break your Big Huge Story into a small mini-story. It can be a short intro or a portion of the Whole. But whatever it is, you should have character introduction and growth, pacing, storytelling, conflict, resolution, and a beginning, middle and end. Otherwise, all you're doing is breaking off a piece of the elephant to chew on and it's not as instructional. Plus, it's easy to make excuses for yourself - "Well, this may not make much sense, but you should see the rest of the story..."

What you need to do is learn storytelling and pacing, and see what it's like to draw the same characters again and again and again. And again. Perhaps 20 pages in, you'll come to the conclusion that 1000 pages of the same story would just about kill you.

Now, everyone's different, but I implore you, put a date on the calendar as to when you'll just decide what to do and then just do it. Because you can fool yourself into thinking you're working on your graphic novel when what you really are doing is just rolling this issue around in your head, not really deciding what to do, but thinking about it all the time. It's no substitute for progress, and teaches you very little.

I wish you luck and anxiously await your progress!
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Ayo
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Post by Ayo » Sat Mar 03, 2007 3:18 pm

Time waits for no man.

Conventional wisdom is for conventional thinkers.


Trust me; if you have your heart set on the big one, then SWING FOR THE BACK FENCES.

You may strike out the first few times, but keep reaching for YOUR goal and if you work hard enough, you'll achieve success.


Don't spend years doing short stories just because you feel you "should." Do only what feels right to you, personally.
I can't fly.

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thirdeyeh
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Post by thirdeyeh » Sat Mar 03, 2007 9:32 pm

Ayo, your words were resounding through my head earlier today before I even read your post. And Og your words are true too, a decison needs to be made and I just need to go with it. Though I know it sounds awfully philosophical about the whole thing... I'm not guaranteed a chance to do this stuff years from now. I am going to keep swinging for th fence with this one and the reason is simple... I love this story I'm doing. The question I posed was sincere andI do plan on working on some small stories for fun as I go along, but I finally just realized why I am trying to get out of this, or put it off. I was rereading a section from Scott McCloud's latest offering "Making Comics" today and on page 151 he says his advice is that we should write the stories we want to read. And the story I am writing now is the kind of story I would LOVE to read. It just has everything I enjoy about stories, and my own geekiness when it comes to fanatasy and paranormal stuff as well as characters that just write themselves to me. So while I know that starting small may be the way to go, I also know that I don't get into short stories all that much. I like the X-Files because of the alien conspiracy, I love Lost because it's all one self contained story that has an ending no matter how much it doesn't seem like it week to week lol. My favorite comics are Monster and I love the big idea kind of stories. And I know I have the drive to do it. For me I think the fence is where I'm aiming my bat right now.
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matthewart
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Post by matthewart » Mon Mar 05, 2007 3:48 pm

That is so weird. I just read page 151 of making comics this morning. I kid you not.

Go for it man. Do that first chapter (or whatever break up the whole story word your using... maybe first scene.) do that first part and finish it. Finish it!!! Finish it!!!

and post it in story tellers circle ... I'd like to see it. :)
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matthewart
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Post by matthewart » Mon Mar 05, 2007 3:50 pm

I did also want to say I know where Og is coming from.

Ayo's comment has heart too.
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thirdeyeh
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Post by thirdeyeh » Mon Mar 05, 2007 6:46 pm

Thanks Matthewart. It seems like everyone's comments have a place in this argument. I guess I look at this thing, after having really done this since I was like in 3rd grade, and think to myself, I want to go full speed ahead. Admittedly I have done fuew short stories, but I have done many a superhero type comic and fun comic for my wife and so forth. So this long book is what I am soooo excited about. I almost feel foolish for having doubted it so much lately. And to everyon'e comments on doing things in smaller sections, that is how I am doing it. Each book has five chapters in it and each chapter has sections where the story follows a distinct scene. So I am doing short goals. Generally eight to ten page scenes are my goals at any given moment. And I am close to finishing the first chapetr which will be 41 pages long (currently on 31). I'm rewriting the last scene and I'm much happier with it. But I have posted some of it Matthewart, I have a link on the first page of this thread. Thanks again guys.

Matthewart, glad we're on the same... page??????? (rim shot)
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Vince
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Post by Vince » Mon Mar 05, 2007 11:42 pm

It would be interesting to hear what people in other mediums have to say. I mentioned Bradbury earlier, and I've had the great pleasure of seeing him speak in person. He talked about the need to write short stories first and to avoid the temptation of writing that huge epic. I've read an interview with James Cameron, who mentioned starting off by making small films, even if you had to use relatives as actors. On the other hand, Quentin Tarantino's first film was Reservoir Dogs... so who knows?
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Og
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Post by Og » Tue Mar 06, 2007 4:59 am

Diff'rent strokes for diff'rent blokes, I think, Vince.

*shrug*

I think you learn more by doing *something* certainly than just thinking or talking about it, tho I tend toward the walk-before-you-run school than the first-time-runner-goes-marathon model.
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Post by chasecorbeau » Tue Mar 06, 2007 6:47 pm

I pretty much started out with an epic, which I'm well over 400 pages into. I wouldn't recommend it... I just couldn't wait either and went ahead and did it regardless of it being an incredibly stupid thing to do.

If you consider it a quasi do it yourself master's degree in art and storytelling, it may be worth it. I do a lot of experimenting/learning and research I would have never gotten into if I hadn't started on Crowfeathers. It'll be several years, maybe a decade before I finish it. However, they say the overnight success stories are usually people that have been in the business for at least ten years. *shrug*

At least making comics isn't like playing football. You can still do it when you're 80 years old.
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thirdeyeh
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Post by thirdeyeh » Wed Mar 07, 2007 9:59 pm

I guess I look at it this way... I don't have any short story ideas that are just aching to come out of me to do, but this epic I do have a strong desire to do. And like OG said, isn't it better to at least be doing SOMETHING?! I'm actually thinking that once the first chapter of this book is done I am going to take a break and write the next chapter, and whilst I am doing that I will be messing with some short stories to keep the art up. I guess I'm going to try to do both. I'm not getting paid for my graphic novel. There's no reason why I can't do some other work while I am doing it as well. I can't believe you're 400 pages in!! I'm all jealous. I'm going to check out your book over the weekend when I have some down time to read.
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chasecorbeau
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Post by chasecorbeau » Wed Mar 07, 2007 10:25 pm

Actually it's... *looks* 424 pages. I went back and numbered them a few chapters ago because people kept asking how many pages I had, and I didn't know. ^o^

I think when I have 50 chapters I'll be at pro status. Or dead. I'm not sure which. I'm gonna start printing volumes through Lulu soon. Hopefully someone will buy one. Radio wanted to print it, but I doubt they'll be able to until 2020 or something.. the way things are going... T__T

I've done other short things and projects while doing this, and working a day job. You have to do something else or starve. T____T
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Chris Schweizer
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Post by Chris Schweizer » Fri Mar 09, 2007 9:25 am

I never did comics because I only read longer form stuff - mostly graphic novels. For someone who had difficulty with follow-through, the idea of trying to tackle a project of any magnitude was far too daunting.

It wasn't until I discovered mini-comics (Raina and Dave's to be specific) that the sense of insurmountability disappeared.

I could do a six page story. Once I had done that, a sixteen page story wasn't that overwhelming. Pretty soon, doing graphic novels didn't seem so impossible as they once did.

There's a feeling of triumph when you finish a project. Knowing for a fact that you can complete an entire story gives you the confidence you'll need for that horrific time about a third into a longer work where it just seems like you'll never finish.

I say start small. Besides the validation it gives you, it's good to practice your craft as much as possible. The more pages you do, the better they'll end up being. If you've already done a hundred pages worth of shorts, then your work will be more uniform when you tackle something longer. Otherwise you might find a noticeable shift in quality between your first page and your last.

You asked how you know when one is ready to approach a GN. I'd say that confidence is your best ally. When you feel like you can do it, that's when you should take the leap. But I DO think that shorts go a great way towards building that confidence.

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Sankam
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Post by Sankam » Tue Mar 13, 2007 3:24 pm

I agree with Chris Schweizer and others that it is good to start small. But if you are short on ideas and the options are long or not at all, long seems preferable.

I think you have to go with your heart on this one. I finally jumped into my story last year-- even though it's in the middle of the overall continunity and will probably be at least 75 pages-- because that was the story I was enthusiastic about telling.

I flailed around for a long time trying to detail out stories earlier in the continuity, or unrelated short stories, but I was getting nowhere in the idea department, and I finally realized that I needed to crack down and draw something or I was never going to get started. 'Survival of the Fittest' isn't the most complex tale, but it is a solid idea and I can weave in themes that I want to run through the entire series. And since I have started working on it, I've thought of more ideas for those other stories as well.

In the end, if you are self-publishing, it seems to me that it has to be a matter of what you are enthusiastic about producing. If you are in art school, or have a day job, you have the luxury of paying your dues by producing pieces first in a smaller scope. But if the comic what is putting bread on the table, it's going to be (even more) hellish if you're not making stories you are in love with. The job is hard enough as it is.

However, I have no experience as a self-publisher, other than eight pages on a free web site. My income is from savings right now. So, I ask the rest of you: is this a naiive view?

I suspect the key question here is how to generate ideas that you are excited about.
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