Scenes Without Stories – A Ramble

2015 Artwork Scenes Without Stories article sketch

Although it’s been a while since I worked on anything even vaguely approaching a longer creative project, I recently ended up thinking things like “I should make a comic” or “I should write a novel” (or, more likely a novella).

Of course, since I was also feeling fairly uninspired at the time, thinking these things just made me feel like a failure.

But, rather than wallow in self-pity, I thought that I’d dissect some of these thoughts in case they can teach us anything about the creative process.

Usually when I think “I should write a novel” or “I should make a comic“, one random scene from said comic or novel will sometimes randomly appear in my mind. It’ll be tantalisingly vague and I’ll have no real clue about the characters or even what happens before or after this scene.

To give you an example of what I mean – when I briefly thought “I should write a novel“, my first idea was to write a medieval sci-fi story. It would be kind of like “Dune” meets “Babylon 5” meets “Game Of Thrones”.

Naturally, a scene from the very beginning of this story appeared in my mind – it involved a member of the nobility on an alien planet murdering someone in cold blood.

Unfortunately, this never got beyond scribbling the lines: ‘The thing that Lovian didn’t expect was the red blood. Humans have red blood, who’d have thought it?‘ in my sketchbook before realising that I had no clue about the rest of the story. Eventually, I ended up abandoning this idea – even though the scene stuck in my mind.

I don’t know if this is because I tend to think more visually, but it’s often strange how the beginning of an idea for a story or a comic will often consist of one movie-like moment that flashes through my imagination.

In the rare event that I decide to follow up on one of these ideas, I’ve often had to basically just sit around and wait for more of the story to reveal itself to me. Or for more of these disconnected scenes to appear in my mind, until I can find a way to work out useful character or plot information from them.

In fact, before I made my “CRIT” comic series in late 2012/early -mid 2013, I had to make a ridiculous number of “concept art” sketches of the characters and of random scenes that had popped into my mind before I could even learn the character’s names, let alone make the comic. All of my old concept art can be found here – but, here are a few examples:

"Ballistics Testing (Concept Art)" By C. A. Brown [2012]

“Ballistics Testing (Concept Art)” By C. A. Brown [2012]

"Cityscape (Concept Animation)" By C. A. Brown [2012]

“Cityscape (Concept Animation)” By C. A. Brown [2012]

"Hidden Chips (Concept Art)" By C. A. Brown [2012]

“Hidden Chips (Concept Art)” By C. A. Brown [2012]

In a way, trying to think of an idea for a story or a comic can sometimes be like a form of archaeology or treasure hunting. So, it’s ok if you can only think of a small part of your story to begin with – just keep thinking about it and more of it will eventually appear.

Of course, this isn’t the only way to work out a story for a comic or a novel (since everyone has slightly different thought processes and a slightly different imagination). But, it’s perfectly ok if you can only think of a few intriguingly confusing fragments of your story to begin with…


Sorry for the short article, but I hope it was interesting 🙂

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