This is probably fairly self-explanatory and I’d be extremely surprised if it hasn’t been said before – but an imporant way of imbuing your stories (whether they’re told through art and/or prose)… with a real sense of passion and depth is really simple…. Geek out about your stories. I mean it. If you aren’t the most obsessive fan of your own work, then how can you expect anyone else to be?
Maybe this applies to some genres more than others, but the basic principle is still quite important – you have to be the number one fan of your stories, you have to be a walking encyclopedia of every small background detail in your stories (even the ones which never make it into your actual stories), you have to get excited about every small amusing background detail (and feel a sense of excitement when you add them too, maybe more than people will feel when they read it), you have to imagine what your stories would be like if they were made into a film or a TV series (even down to what film certificate the DVD boxset would probably get – by the way, “Somnium” would probably get a 15 certificate. Whereas “CRIT“, “Yametry Run” and “Anachrony” would probably get a 12 certificate etc…), what a videogame adaptation of your stories would look like, what the Wikipedia & TV Tropes pages about your stories would look like etc……..
If this all sounds slightly strange and you don’t quite feel (and, yes, it’s more of a feeling when it’s at it’s best) what I’m talking about, then it’s fairly simple really. Think about whatever really fascinates you, whatever you could give a one-hour lecture about without any notice, what really animates you when you start talking about it etc… then imagine feeling that same emotion about your own writing. It’s really that simple. Probably.
What this all really comes down to is immersing yourself in your stories and the world of your stories, the mythology of your stories, how they relate to your other stories (and crossovers can be seriously fun to write) with a sense of absolute enthusiasm. This is what makes great stories. This is what makes stories feel real – like an actual place which people can visit, another world which people can dip into for “just five minutes” and then emerge an hour later. This is the kind of thing which will make other people want to keep reading your work and, most importantly, to geek out about it too.
It also comes down to enthusiasm too – you have to be enthusiastic about your own work and this, of course, leads to the rather old and often-repeated advice about writing the kind of stories which you want to read. It’s a very good piece of advice and about the only way to really produce your best work. The fact is that geeking out about your stories is a really really good way to stay enthusiastic about writing (or possibly just a byproduct of already being enthusiastic – or possibly both of these things), even on days when you’re not really feeling that enthusiastic about writing/drawing any more of them – and any writer/artist who says that they never experience this is blatantly lying.
Plus, I’ll let you in on a secret – it also makes you feel wonderfully, for want of a better word, omniscient when you do this too. Seriously, being the one person in the world who knows the most about your stories, who even knows everything which didn’t make it onto the page, who knows everything about the world of your stories (ok, this probably applies more to sci-fi/fantasy stories…), who knows what is going to happen before your readers do, who knows exactly what all of the characters are thinking etc…. Trust me, really geeking out about your stories is worth it just for this feeling alone. It’s really something.
Then again, if you write, draw comics or tell stories in any format then you probably know all of this anyway….
(Although, I should probably point out one side-effect about this. You may end up talking about your stories a lot . Some people might find this to be annoying. I’m really not sure what advice to give about this, but I thought that I’d mention it anyway.)
(Wow! This blog entry almost wrote itself, this didn’t happen with my last blog entry. I guess I was geeking out about this one a lot more.)