Three Things That Game Design Videos Can Teach Artists (Who Don’t Make Games)

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I’m not sure if I’ve talked about this before, but I thought that I’d talk about one of my favourite types of online videos and how they can also be useful if you’re an artist.

I am, of course, talking about videos that discuss and explain design techniques in computer and video games. But, apart from messing around with a few basic “game maker” type programs in the past, I haven’t made a game [EDIT (16/10/17): Unless you count this gamebook-style interactive novella I wrote in 2015. I can’t believe I forgot about that!]

So, what relevance do these videos have to making art? They can teach us quite a lot, such as…

1) Graphics aren’t everything: Anyone who knows anything about gaming will probably know this already, but it’s possible for a game to look visually spectacular but to be terribly designed. Whilst hyper-realistic graphics might enhance the player’s enjoyment of some games, they’re worth nothing if the actual game itself isn’t both well-designed and fun to play.

Of course, art is – on the surface at least- all about “graphics”. I mean, you are literally creating a single static image (using ink, paints, digital tools etc..). However, there’s a lot more to making a good piece of art than just pure technical brilliance.

I’m talking about things like composition (eg: the layout of a picture), visual storytelling (eg: what is happening in the picture), perspective (eg: the ‘camera angle’ used in a painting or drawing) and the overall visual consistency of a picture (eg: do the colours go well together etc…). If you do these things well, then even an ‘unrealistic’ picture will be far more visually interesting than a hyper-realistic picture that doesn’t do these things well.

So, even with art, graphics aren’t everything.

2) Budget isn’t everything: One interesting thing about game design videos on sites like Youtube is that they are just as likely to focus on the design of obscure low-budget games made by small teams as they are to focus on the design of well-advertised mega-budget games made by software companies. Since game design revolves around ideas (and how those ideas are implemented), games of all budget levels can either include good or bad design.

Thankfully, since art isn’t usually a collaborative medium, we don’t have to worry about team size. However, if you’re new to making art, then it can be easy to think that you need a large art budget. That you need fancy branded art supplies or the most well-advertised types of graphics software. You don’t.

Good art is about skill, rather than about budget. An artist who has put a lot of time into practice and learning can produce stunning artwork using basic, cheap no-brand tools. An artist who is less experienced will produce lower-quality art even with expensive branded tools. The thing that matters most is skill (which can only be acquired through practice, learning, experimentation etc..) and not how expensive or prestigious your art supplies are.

Good game design doesn’t require a large budget. Neither does good art.

3) Ideas mean nothing without implementation: One of the most interesting things in game design videos is when they talk about games that have great design ideas, but which fail because those ideas aren’t implemented properly. In other words, it’s about whether a game puts it’s ideas into practice in a way that is enjoyable (and understandable) for the player.

This has a lot of parallels with modern art. One of the most trendy art movements at the moment is (still) conceptual art – this is the idea that the idea behind a piece of art matters more than the actual art itself. This is why things like unmade beds, pickled sharks and old urinals end up in art galleries. But, although the ideas behind these works of art may be complex, philosophically deep etc… they don’t always get those ideas across to the audience in an immediate, quickly-understandable and interesting way.

So, even if you have a great idea for a painting, a drawing or a sculpture, then you still have to pay a lot of attention to how you will put that idea into practice. How you will use your painting, drawing or sculpture to communicate with the audience in the most effective, understandable and interesting way possible.

Because, in both games and art, a great idea means nothing without good implementation.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

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Three More Things That (Visual) Artists Can Learn From Heavy Metal Music

Well, as something of a continuation of an article about the heavy metal genre and artistic inspiration that I posted a few days ago, I thought that I’d look at a few more things that (visual) artists can learn from the heavy metal genre.

1) Humour, silliness and theatricality: One of the brilliant things about heavy metal music is that, despite the melodramatic imagery that is often associated with it, it doesn’t always take itself entirely seriously.

There are too many examples of humourous metal songs to list here, but they include songs like “Born To Be Epic” by Equilibrium, “Metal Inquisition” By Piledriver, pretty much anything by Alestorm, “Mr. Torture” by Helloween etc…

Even more “serious” metal often tends to have a slightly tongue-in-cheek element to it that is absolute joy to listen to. These songs are deliberately melodramatic in a way that makes them much less “serious” than they might initially appear to be. Some examples of this kind of song include “Kill For Metal” By Iron Fire, “Iron Maiden” by Iron Maiden, “For Your Vulgar Delectation” by Cradle Of Filth, “Metal Machine” by Sabaton etc..

So, what does any of this have to do with art? Well, including the visual equivalent of this kind of thing in your art can be a great way to give your paintings or drawings a distinctive look.

Including overly melodramatic (but knowingly humourous) horror imagery and/or dark humour in your art can really make it stand out from the crowd.

Although this is something that I should probably do a lot more in my own art, I’ve experimented with it a bit, like in this digitally-edited painting called “Skeleton Service” (which was originally inspired by old horror novel covers):

"Skeleton Service" By C. A. Brown

“Skeleton Service” By C. A. Brown

2) Minimalist storytelling: One of the great things about heavy metal songs is that they sometimes contain a certain amount of storytelling. Whilst this is hardly exclusive to the metal genre, it seems to be a much larger feature of the metal genre compared to many other genres. Within the space of just 100-500 words, a metal song can tell a dramatic story in a similar manner to the epic narrative poems of old.

For example, Judas Priest’s “The Sentinel” tells a story about gladiatorial combat in a post-apocalyptic world using just 189 words. Iron Maiden’s “Number Of The Beast” tells the story of someone witnessing an evil ritual using just 301 words. Turisas’ “To Holmgard And Beyond” tells the story of an epic Viking sea voyage (with multiple fictional characters) in just 279 words etc…

So, again, what does all this writing-based stuff have to do with art?

Well, it’s all to do with the power of minimalist storytelling. When you make art, you often have to tell part of a story within the space of a single image and often without using words.

So, learning the value of compact, minimalist (visual) storytelling can be incredibly useful. And learning how to focus on important details, important events etc.. is something that listening to narrative-based metal songs can help you with.

3) Metal Covers: One of the awesome things about the metal genre, especially within the past couple of decades, is that metal bands will occasionally cover non-metal songs in a metal style. Sometimes, this is just done for laughs, but it can often give these songs more intensity and depth than they originally had.

Examples include Cradle Of Filth’s dramatic covers of both Shakespeares Sister’s “Stay” and The Sisters Of Mercy’s “No Time To Cry”, The Birthday Massacre’s cover of James And The Shondells’ “I Think We’re Alone Now”, Die Apokalyptischen Reiter’s Cover of “Ghost Riders In The Sky”, Nightwish’s epic cover of Gary Moore’s “Over The Hills And Far Away”, Alestorm’s hilarious cover of Taio Cruz’s “Hangover”, Inkubus Sukkubus’ creative cover of Cher’s “Gypsies, Tramps And Thieves” etc…

So, yet again, what does any of this have to do with art?

First of all, it isn’t a suggestion that you should directly copy other people’s art. With a very small number of exceptions (eg: private practice, parodies, making studies of out-of-copyright paintings etc..) this is usually considered to be plagiarism. So, stick to just taking inspiration from art that you consider to be cool.

Anyway, the reason why I mentioned metal covers is because they’re often examples of a band showing off their own distinctive “style”. It’s also an example of why it’s so important to develop your own unique art style since, like with metal covers of non-metal songs, whatever you paint or draw will be distinctly “yours”.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂 Now, listen to some metal \m/

Three Things That (Visual) Artists Can Learn From Heavy Metal Music

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve written about the heavy metal genre. But, although I’ve talked about how listening to certain metal bands can improve any poetry you write, I wondered if the heavy metal genre can improve any drawings, paintings etc.. that you make.

So, here are a few things that (visual) artists can learn from heavy metal music.

1) Album art: It almost goes without saying, but heavy metal albums have historically had some of the most detailed, dramatic and/or interesting cover art of any musical genre. This was probably more true in decades past when most metal albums featured painted cover art, but it still holds true to some extent today.

If you don’t believe me, check out some of Derek Riggs’ classic 1980s album covers for Iron Maiden. They’re filled with action-packed visual storytelling, very “realistic” stylised artwork and a surprising amount of background detail (Riggs’ cover art for “Somewhere In Time” is outstanding in this regard).

The artwork on a lot of classic metal albums is designed to reflect the kind of music within the album – whether it’s the horror imagery on the cover of a classic Slayer album or the bold cover art of a 1980s Judas Priest album, heavy metal album covers provide many great examples of how an artist can convert non-visual inspiration into fittingly awesome visual art.

In addition to this, classic heavy metal album covers (and T-shirt art) often feature really interesting lighting too. In keeping with the classic inspirations for the genre (eg: horror movies etc…), heavy metal album art will often feature large amounts of contrast between lighter and darker areas of the painting. Often, the most dramatic parts of an album cover will be emphasised by contrasting them with a dark background. This is especially true when you consider that the album art often ends up being printed on black T-shirts too.

In fact, this is probably one of the things that inspired my “make sure that at least 30%-50% of the surface area of each painting is covered with black paint” rule. This rule is a central part of my art style and it’s one of the things that gives my paintings, in any genre, their distinctive look. Like this:

Even though this is a gothic horror cyberpunk painting, my approach to lighting has been inspired heavily by heavy metal album art. ["Storage" By C. A. Brown]

Even though this is a gothic horror cyberpunk painting, my approach to lighting has been inspired heavily by heavy metal album art.
[“Storage” By C. A. Brown]

2) Taking inspiration (whilst staying original): The heavy metal genre is a genre about taking inspiration, whilst still remaining original. This is something that all visual artists need to learn how to do.

Contrary to the erroneous old-fashioned idea that metal is a “mindless” genre, heavy metal is one of the most intelligent and wide-ranging genres of music you will ever listen to. Whilst most pop songs may only have a limited range of subject matter (eg: love and fame), heavy metal songs have taken inspiration from a gigantic range of subjects.

Whether it’s the first world war (“Paschendale” by Iron Maiden), a Clive Barker novel (“Tortured Soul Asylum” by Cradle Of Filth), the poetry of Walt Whitman (“Song Of Myself” by Nightwish), government surveillance (“Electric Eye” by Judas Priest), keel-hauling by 17th century pirates (“Keelhauled” by Alestorm), the Vikings (eg: anything by Turisas, Amon Amarth or TYR), secret societies (“Square Hammer” by Ghost), pyromania (“Benzin” By Rammstein), slasher movies (“Overkill” by Overkill) etc… Heavy metal music takes inspiration from a gigantic range of things.

In addition to this, metal bands are unafraid to take inspiration from both other metal bands and other musical genres… whilst still producing original music.

Although I’ve written a more detailed article about how to take inspiration properly, listening to heavy metal music can give you numerous examples of how to take inspiration from other things whilst still being original.

3) Doing your own thing: The heavy metal genre has rarely been a “popular” genre. Metal bands don’t give a damn whether they end up in the charts or not. As long as they can express themselves and their fans like it, then they can do all sorts of interesting creative things.

Heavy metal is a genre about creativity and it’s attitude to this is often more “punk” than some punk bands are. Because they don’t have to worry about being “mainstream”, metal bands make the music that they want to make. This is why there are literally hundreds of wildly different sub-genres of heavy metal (eg: for a good contrasting example, listen to “Twilight Of The Gods” by Helloween, then listen to “Desire In Violent Overture” by Cradle Of Filth. They’re both metal songs, but they sound very different), compared to the limited range of sub-genres in most other types of music.

Needless to say, this is an attitude that leads to a lot more self-expression and creativity. And it’s an attitude that is worth taking if you are an artist.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Nostalgia vs. Memory – A Ramble

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Although this was supposed to be an article about creating things (art, fiction etc..) that are inspired by the past, I ended up spending all the article talking about my own experiences with the difference between nostalgia and memory. Likewise, I wrote the first draft of this article before I wrote these short stories. Still, this might help you to think about the differences between the two things more clearly.

A couple of days before I wrote this article, I went through a bit of a musical nostalgia phase. Whilst I can’t remember exactly what prompted it, I ended up looking through my collection of old CD singles again (anyone remember those?) for songs that made me feel nostalgic about the 1990s.

Whilst I bought relatively few CD singles during the 1990s (since I was a kid then, and I tended to listen to the radio and to audio cassettes more), I later went through a phase of buying every interesting old CD single I could find in charity shops when I was about seventeen. So, this wasn’t exactly my first musical nostalgia phase.

The interesting thing was that the songs that made me think about the 1990s the most were pretty much the last ones I expected. Whether it was Geri Halliwell’s surprisingly good cover of “It’s Raining Men”, “Beautiful Stranger” by Madonna or “Brimful Of Asha” By Cornershop, most of the songs that instantly made me vividly remember the 1990s weren’t exactly the kind of “retro” music I usually listen to these days.

In fact, the only songs that genuinely remind me of the 1990s that are close to my current tastes in music are probably a couple of punk songs from The Offspring’s “Americana” album. This, of course, makes perfect sense given that, although I discovered the punk genre in the late 1990s, I didn’t discover the heavy metal genre until about 2001 or the gothic rock genre until 2008. When I was a kid during the 1990s, the only music I listened to was what was easily available in the charts and/or on the radio.

Yet, if you were to ask me to think of “nostalgic 90s music”, I’d probably think of all sorts of cool bands that – to me now – seem very “1990s” but which I hadn’t actually heard during the 1990s. This, of course, is the difference between nostalgia and memory.

But, it’s not just music, it’s lots of other things too. Whenever I try to imagine a 1990s setting for a short story, comic or painting – my first thought is often about old American TV shows from the 1990s. Yet, I’ve never actually been to America. When I want to make something “look 90s”, I think of movies and music videos from the era that I never actually saw back then. When making “1990s style” art, I also tend to think of fashion designs that were a lot more common across the pond than over here.

I think that part of this is due to the fact that my nostalgia about the 1990s is a relatively recent thing. Even up until about 2008 or 2009, I was much more fascinated with the 1980s than the 1990s. So, I’ve had to do a lot of research into a decade that hadn’t quite fully entered mainstream nostalgia. Of course, American TV shows, movies, journalism, fashions etc.. tend to be a lot more well-documented online. So, they tended to turn up a lot more during my research.

Yes, in some ways, this is a little bit annoying. Because, from what I can remember and from everything I’ve seen later, the culture of 1990s Britain was really cool. It had more of a punkish rebelliousness to it than ’90s America did.

Whether it was ‘edgy’ TV shows like “Bits” or “Queer As Folk“, whether it was the cynically humourous attitude of (print) game journalism back then, whether it was the watered-down punk attitude of the Spice Girls (compared to modern pop bands, they were practically punk! One of their music videos from 1997 is also cyberpunk too!) or whether it was gleefully rebellious celebrities like Tracey Emin (I may not be a fan of conceptual art, but she was one of the coolest artists of the 90s) the 90s was a much more edgy, hedonistic, rebellious, creatively free and generally cool decade in Britain than in America. It’s just a shame I wasn’t old enough to truly enjoy or appreciate it back then!

But, is this disconnect between nostalgia and memory an entirely bad thing? No. I really like the stylised “nostalgic” version of 1990s America that I’ve built within my own imagination. It’s excitingly different to the more mundane everyday memories of 1990s Britain that I have. It’s really fun to make things (like this comic) that are based on this imagined version of another decade in another country.

But, at the same time, it doesn’t really have the same level of personal intensity as things that are actually based on memories. Making things that are based on memories, rather than nostalgia tends to have a level of vividness that doesn’t come from trying to conjure up an imagined version of the past. It feels like you are revisiting the formative parts of your imagination.

So, yes – like fantasies and reality, nostalgia and memories can be two vastly different things. But, they can both be good sources of creative inspiration.

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Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂

Three Random Sources Of Inspiration For (Self-Contained) Webcomic Updates

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Well, since I was busy making the final update for a webcomic mini series (that will appear here in October) at the time of writing, I thought that I’d talk about some of the ways that you can find ideas for self-contained webcomic updates.

Apologies in advance if I’ve mentioned any of this stuff before in previous articles. I was kind of in a rush when I wrote this one, so there’s a chance that I might end up repeating myself.

So, how can you find ideas for self-contained webcomic updates?

1) Procrastination: When you’re looking for webcomic ideas, random internet surfing, DVD watching etc… is more than just procrastination. It’s also research! No, I’m serious. You’d be surprised at how many interesting ideas you can find when supposedly “wasting time”.

For example, one morning, I made the otherwise foolish decision to read a few pages on TV Tropes. This is a fascinating website that can literally gobble hours of your time if you aren’t careful. Anyway, an article on that site led me to learn about something called the “Loudness War“. This is something that was a lot more prominent in the ’00s and it’s where record companies use all sorts of clever audio editing techniques to make CDs sound louder, even when played at low volumes.

It’s the reason why, for example, Metallica’s “Death Magnetic” album sounds about twice as furious and energetic than you might expect. It’s one possible reason why Iron Maiden’s albums from the early – late ’00s have a suitably epic sound to them that is instantly recognisable as “modern Iron Maiden”. It’s one reason why the Distillers’ “Coral Fang” album is so wonderfully, breathlessly intense. Plus, as a bonus, it also annoys pretentious people who care more about barely noticeable audio quality differences than about how good the actual music is too.

So, after forming my own opinion about it (namely that anyone who complains about audio quality in metal or punk music is missing the whole point of these two genres), it gave me the idea for the next webcomic update that I made. Here’s a preview of two panels from it:

 The full comic update will be posted here on the 8th October.

The full comic update will be posted here on the 8th October.

So, yes, one easy way to find webcomic ideas is simply to do a random internet search on somewhere like Wikipedia or TV Tropes and see if you can find an interesting subject that makes you think “I want to make a webcomic update about this!“.

2) Random situations: Another easy way to come up with webcomic ideas is just to show two or more of your characters doing something “ordinary”. Yes, this requires you to know your characters fairly well, but it can be a very easy way to find an idea for a comic. This is because you can show your characters’ reactions or interactions during everyday life.

For example, I had writer’s block whilst making the comic update that I was making at the time of writing this article. So, in the end, I just thought “what would happen if Harvey and Rox went into town on market day?“. Needless to say, the comic update pretty much planned itself after that.

Making these types of “everyday life” comic updates can also help you to learn more about your characters too. For example, although Harvey and Rox get along really well normally – lots of hilarious bickering and sarcasm occurs whenever they go shopping together.

3) An image: Another way to come up with an idea for a webcomic update is just to think of a suitably interesting image of one of your characters and work backwards from there. Yes, this technique doesn’t always work (so, do it during the planning stage rather than when actually making your comic!) but it can add some interesting artistic variety to your webcomic when it does work.

For example, I’d been going through a dystopian sci-fi phase before planning one of the updates in my upcoming mini series. So, I wanted to include some kind of dystopian sci-fi scene in one of my comics. I wanted to draw Derek as some kind of futuristic hyper-authoritarian “Judge Dredd”/”Robocop”-style character. The image was surprisingly vivid in my mind and I quickly sketched it.

So, from that, I had to work backwards and ask myself “how, in a mini series that is set in the present day, would Derek be in that situation?“. The answer was, of course, virtual reality. Once I’d found that idea, I was then able to come up with lots of other ideas for the comic too (eg: controversies about violent videogames etc…).

So, find a cool idea for a picture of one of your characters and then work backwards from that.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Two Ways To Make Webcomic Making Interesting Again (Plus, A Comic Preview :) )

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As regular readers of this site probably know, this site is currently the middle of a bit of a webcomic drought. This was due to a number of factors, but the most prominent one was that I just didn’t feel the enthusiasm for making webcomics that I did a while ago. Although there will be another six (somewhat uninspired) comic updates in September, I’m determined that October won’t be a comic desert.

So, I started a new short comics project. At the time of writing, I don’t know how well it will turn out, but I’m actually excited about it. Here’s a cropped, but otherwise unedited, preview of what I’d made so far at the original time of writing:

The full and finished comic update will appear here on the 4th October.

The full and finished comic update will appear here on the 4th October.

And here’s a panel from the finished update, completed a few hours after the first draft of this article:

Yes, this is going to be awesome :) But, how did I rediscover my love of making webcomics... and how can YOU?

Yes, this is going to be awesome 🙂 But, how did I rediscover my love of making webcomics… and how can YOU?

So, how can you rekindle your love for making webcomics? Here are two tips:

1) Deal with feelings of webcomic guilt: If you’ve been posting webcomics regularly or semi-regularly, then it can be easy to feel guilty if you’ve had to drop out of comic-making for a while due to lack of enthusiasm for it. After all, it can feel like you’re letting your audience down. It can even feel like you’re drifting further away from your beloved webcomic characters.

Firstly, it’s important to remember that – if you’re feeling guilty about not making webcomics – it still means that you’re interested in making webcomics. It still means that you love making webcomics. After all, if you weren’t, you probably wouldn’t feel guilty about not making them.

If you let those feelings consume you, then – at best – it’s going to cause you to begrudgingly make a webcomic because you feel like you have to. Chances are, like the crappy webcomic mini series that will appear here in September, it probably won’t be that good. Feeling like this whilst making comics doesn’t lead to good comics.

So, instead, try to produce some filler content that is closer to the things you do currently enjoy making (eg: one of my very early ideas for the mini series which will appear in October was originally just to make a series of paintings featuring my characters). This idea may rekindle your love for your webcomic, or it may form the basis for a much better comic idea.

But, give yourself enough space to think of new ideas (if it makes you feel better, think of it as a “sabbatical”, a “fallow time” or a “holiday” for your webcomic). Be willing to change your comic if you need to. Look for ideas that, at first, seem closer to the things you do enjoy making. Then make them, no matter how different to your previous comics they might be.

Yes, you might feel guilty about not making comics for a while, but try to use this as an impetus to think of better ideas (that also make you feel good), rather than just to do more of the same out of a sense of dreary obligation.

2) Don’t be afraid to make mistakes: Sometimes, the “obvious” solution to your webcomic enthusiasm problems isn’t the best one. Sometimes it is. The only true way to know is to experiment with the ideas that actually make you feel enthusiastic.

You might not get it right the first time, but it will both give your audience some comics to read and give you more of an idea what you need to change about the next project.

For example, the six comic updates will appear here next month were a failed experiment. After getting more and more exhausted by the ever more detailed artwork and complex storylines in many of the comics I’ve posted this year (like this one or this one), I tried to hearken back to the simpler days when comic-making felt a lot more free and spontaneous.

In other words, I tried to produce six self-contained comics that contained much simpler artwork. It was, quite simply, a failure. It almost put me off making comics again. But, when I returned to make some of October’s comics, I learnt quite a few lessons from this abject failure of a comics project.

I learnt that, as time-consuming as it could be, I enjoyed adding detailed art to my comics. Going back to using undetailed art just took some of the fun out of the comics. Likewise, I liked giving my comics a little bit more complexity than just four self-contained panels can offer. But I still wasn’t enthusiastic about including a longer story either.

My solution was simple in retrospect. I’d use a slower production schedule (eg: I’d make one comic a day, rather than two) that would allow me to focus on detailed artwork without getting stressed out by having to make lots of it in a short time. This might mean that the mini series is a bit short, but it shouldn’t affect the release schedule.

In addition to this, I decided that I’d also make slightly larger 6-8 panel self-contained comics in order to allow me to add a bit more complexity to the writing, without committing myself to a longer storyline. It could well be the best of both worlds.

This new project wouldn’t have been started without the lessons I’d learnt from the failed one that will appear here in September. So, if your “new and exciting” comic idea fails, then all this means is that you need to improve it a bit more in order to turn it into something that you’ll love making again.

Don’t let failed experiments make you feel disappointed. If you experimented, then this still means that you care about making webcomics. If your experiment failed, then it just means that you need to change a few more things.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Using Influences From Outside The Cyberpunk Genre In Cyberpunk Fiction

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Well, for this article in my series about writing cyberpunk fiction, I thought that I’d take a brief look at how you can improve your cyberpunk stories by using influences and inspirations from different genres.

This was something that I was reminded of when I wrote this short story that was posted here late last year. My first idea was to write a dystopian story about some kind of police robot, since I’d watched an absolutely brilliant TV miniseries called “Robocop: Prime Directives” on DVD. I was in the mood for some good old-fashioned dystopian science fiction. With heavily-armed robots.

But, before I wrote this story, I remembered an extract from a short horror story I’d read somewhere on “Too Much Horror Fiction[NSFW] a few weeks earlier. Although I can’t seem to find the exact page or remember the author’s name (I think he was the son of a famous horror author), the extract was especially interesting because it was a vampire story that was narrated using just 1-2 word sentences.

This gave me the idea to narrate my short story from the perspective of the robot. After all, this kind of terse, abrupt narration has a slightly “robotic” sound to it. However, I soon realised that I wouldn’t be able to use this exact style in the story because I also wanted to include slightly longer things like descriptive error messages in the story too.

But, the idea of it helped to turn what would have been a generic sci-fi story into something a bit more interesting. By using something similar (but different) to this style, I was able to write something that was only about 400 words long, which told a reasonable-length story and which left enough details to the reader’s imagination to be either chilling or hilarious (depending on your sense of humour).

And this never would have happened if I’d only taken inspiration from the cyberpunk genre.

One of the problems with the cyberpunk genre is that it’s a relatively small genre. There just aren’t that many things in it, when compared to many other genres. It’s a tiny sub-genre of the science fiction genre, whose heyday was 20-35 years ago. It’s amazingly cool, and it’s had something of a resurgence within the past few years, but it’s still fairly obscure. So, taking inspiration from other genres is especially important.

In fact, many of the classics of the cyberpunk genre do exactly that. For example, the 1982 movie “Blade Runner” takes huge amounts of inspiration from old 1930s-50s “film noir” movies. Likewise, the brilliantly distinctive narrative style in William Gibson’s “Sprawl Trilogy” has strong echoes of both hardboiled detective fiction and thriller fiction.

Likewise, Warren Ellis’ excellent “Transmetropolitan” comic series is very clearly inspired by the unique journalism of Hunter S. Thompson. Plus, the original “Deus Ex” computer game takes a lot of influence from pre-existing conspiracy theories, alongside more traditional cyberpunk influences (like “Ghost In The Shell).

What I’m trying to say here is that, if you’re writing cyberpunk fiction, then you need to look outside the genre for inspirations and influences. In fact, this is true for whatever type of fiction that you are trying to write.

“Unique” and “distinctive” fiction usually just means that someone has been inspired by something that the audience didn’t expect them to be inspired by. So, if you want to make your fiction stand out more, then try looking outside of your genre of choice for inspirations.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂