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C07P15 – Deciding Fate

C07P15 – Deciding Fate published on 20 Comments on C07P15 – Deciding Fate

“Your Webcomics!” is holding a vote on the next webcomic they should review. LeyLines is on the list, and if you have a moment I’d appreciate your vote!

Cory and I have been working on a second webcomic for years, but until recently we couldn’t quite fine a rhythm to writing. We’re both very, very different writers. I’m very linear and structured. Make outline, follow outline, work on sections in order until script complete, go back and revise. Cory, on the other hand, writes by scenes. All over the place. Following the inspiration of the moment, rather than a structure or order. For years, we’d sit down to write for this project and it would end in a fight as we’d both try to write in our own personal style and enforce it on the other. Then, rather abruptly, after years of trying and failing to collaborate, it clicked.

And it. Is. SO EXCITING! We’re both giddy to be working on this second story! It’s also fun to write for, now that we’ve figured out how to meld our personal writing styles together. I provide the direction needed for an episodic story. Cory provides creative, spontaneous energy that takes the story in places that I’d never expect. We start by writing a story skeleton, talking about the themes we want to explore, what part of the “conversation” the particular episode covers. Then we move all over within that structure. We’ll write the ending, the beginning, pieces of the middle, revisit the beginning and give it a new beginning because we realized the old beginning was missing some important piece. It’s incredibly refreshing because I’ve never written like that before. I’m not even sure I could on my own. It’s just not how my mind works. So it’s a joy to be able to solve storytelling problems in brand new ways as part of a team.

How do you approach problems? How has working on a team changed your approach?

20 Comments

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That’s so interesting! My husband Mark is definitely the “figure every piece out and follow through with it” style, versus my throwing things against the wall and seeing what sticks. It also doesn’t help that Mark’s best ideas and energy for creative projects comes late at night when all I want to do is crawl into bed, and mine tends to happen early in the morning when he’s still asleep.

So true collaborations never seem to work out for us, and we’ve mostly kept separate projects. We definitely talk about our ideas and support one another, and very occasionally delegate small things to each other and work on them on our own time. Mark’s done a lot of the 3D models figuring out the architecture of this chapter of Sombulus, for example, and I do things like write and design all the promotional material for his board game company.

He just started on a board game project this week, though, that’s really calling on a lot of input from me, moreso than any other project we’ve worked on in our 11 years of marriage. I’m excited about the idea, but honestly a little scared of letting him down because I don’t work the same way as he does. Any advice would be appreciated!

Cory and I have the same timing problem! I’m a morning person, he’s a night owl. The advantage is that, as two introverts, we’re almost guaranteed “alone time”. We’ve found the best time for us to write together is about 2 PM on weekends. Not a ton of time, but we’re learning to make it count!

Hmm…as for advice, there were two things that really helped Cory and I. One was developing a common language. Storytelling is something very intuitive, which can be a problem when you’re trying to communicate ideas that you “just get” but the other person might have an entirely different understanding. We’ve read a lot of books aloud together and discussed them at length. This dialog was crucial to learning how to communicate effectively, thus bridging the gap between style and substance.

The other was getting comfortable with messing in each other’s world, and with our roles. I’m the visual person, so push comes to shove, I get final say on those elements. Cory’s the writer, so if he feels passionate about a plot element, his call is the one that gets used. We can’t write for each other, but we can exchange ideas. It’s just important to feel okay about an idea not being chosen.

Regardless, it can be a real challenge, and needs a lot of trial and error to find what works. Patience is probably more important than anything else! Good luck!

Terrific that ya’ll can collaborate! Cory sounds like a “discovery writer” whereas you’re the opposite, “the architect.”

Discovery writers just FLOW, writing in no particular structure…they discover the structure, plot or characters as they go. Sometimes they pull every scene into a structure during rewriting.

George R. R. Martin is your archetypal discovery writer, Stephen King an archetypal architect writer. Orson Scott Card is on the extreme end of architect-ing, making super detailed outlines of every chapter in advance.
Most of us have some of each.
I’ve become much more architect-y over time.

Nick

For the longest time I couldn’t get my husband to assist me with much of anything. He would brag to his friends how I was a writer and such, but being in his presence while he read my work got frustrating quickly.

I’m not sure what changed, but he read Plague and actually told me he REALLY liked it. Of course the writing in Plague is well improved from when I hastily published M&A.

So while he’s giving me critiques about things that didn’t make sense, he’s been doing it in such a way that I don’t feel as if I’m being attacked. Or perhaps I’ve mellowed about it…

Now he is helping me with issues on Redemption (The TOHS book I intend to publish this fall). He brings up valid issues with the plot and in a way that’s constructive and rational.

I haven’t done collaboration in quite a while…

I love the intense color shift.

I actually work at a job where I get to collaborate with people on independent writing projects. I’ve gotten a few fantasy writers and one extremely talented poet. I run into so many people who like to write, but they do it too sporadically to get anywhere in their interests. I always try to push them toward trying different things and get them to push their boundaries. As far as I’m concerned, when it comes to creativity, everything is fair game.

It sounds like you and I are similar when it comes to writing — getting it done is not a problem! I confess I have trouble relating to people with sporadic creativity. I muscle through the ebbs so much that I’m not sure what it would be like NOT to be working on something!

when you mention people constantly writing a project, that is definitely me! I’m always juggling projects and generating ideas, a zillion ideas a day and a half dozen workable ones… the problem is both the organization necessary to complete a project (lacking) and the energy necessary (lacking due to disease of the energy generating cells) so my productivity can wildly fluctuate.

Sounds like you and Cory write similarly. I know sometimes he’ll get so wrapped up with all he can do in a story that he struggles to actually finish it because there’s so much to cover. Sometimes I feel a bit like an Organizational Consultant when we chat about projects, because I’m all about structure. Sometimes finishing a project is a matter of trimming it down to something that can be completed.

I was getting stuck in my drawing style, so I started drawing ATLA fan art and now I can draw in almost any style that pops into my head. And I improved my go-to style.
When I write stories, I get out notecards and write plot points on them. I pin them to my corkboard and move the cards, add cards, and take cards away until the story works. I’m still perfecting the technique. Next time I think I’ll organize the board into the different stages of the hero’s journey.

I’ve heard lots of people have great success with the note-card method. It’s a little too scattered for me, but I think everybody has to find their personal style of writing. It’s really cool that you’ve found one that works for you!

I’ve had success with the 7-point story structure taught by Dan Wells here http://www.reddit.com/r/writing/comments/1c6oak/this_video_changed_the_way_i_outline_and_write/
I’ve become more of an outliner and planner as I age….

I really enjoy smaller structures to larger ones. “Save the Cat” has a much larger, very specific series of beats for a story, and while perhaps that’s what is needed to be marketable, the way it is presented is very limiting. The simpler structures have much more opportunity for adaptation and flexibility.

The one on-equal-footing collaboration I’ve done at work (as opposed to the sense in which one is always “collaborating” with one’s bosses) went pretty great. The other guy and I had independently started complementary projects, and we found that they fit together like hand and glove. Working together with someone on my level spurred me to be as productive as possible, made me try to go the extra half mile to keep things moving forward smoothly. Even just having someone to talk to about my latest efforts was pretty good.

I collaborated on a comic a long time ago with Sam(from comic dish) and our mutual friend Mer. I learned that being the 3rd person is rough and a lot of what I wanted to do, creatively, was not how the other two wanted to proceed. I actually started to get angry at them and the situation, so I bowed out before it got too bad. I think it was the better decision to make, even though I really did have a lot of fun when the times were good. We made some decent comics. 😀

Working with somebody else can be really frustrating! For the first several years of attempted collaboration with Cory, I felt much the way you did! I’d get an idea that seemed SO COOL and he’d dismiss it because it didn’t fit what he had in mind. Was incredibly difficult to work through! I’m not sure if I’ve mellowed, or if we’ve just become more in-step on creative direction!

So why are these Timu hiding in the desert? Are they remnants of some rebellion? Or is it bigger? “Look Cpt. Lightbringer! A village of Timu. We must take them under our protection and civilize them.”

You might appreciate this little detail…on this page in the blue panels we see paintings on the walls. Each of those is a historic record. In the middle blue panel, on the far right, is a large white snake-figure, and lots of tiny people with wings. The Raviki tribe worships the red hawk…hence the wings. That particular record is from when the va Naza tribe was first formed…and began conquering other tribes in worship to their god, Vision. If a tribe wouldn’t convert…well…they typically didn’t survive.

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