Four Quick Tips For Never Leaving A Comic Unfinished

Sorry about even more recycled title art, but I was fairly tired at the time of writing this article.

Sorry about even more recycled title art, but I was fairly tired at the time of writing this article.

Although I finished preparing this year’s Halloween comic the night before I wrote this article, the last few pages were considerably less enjoyable to make than the rest of the comic was. But, despite feeling my enthusiasm for the project waning, I was still able to finish it.

In fact, since I got back into making comics in 2015, I’ve never really left a comic unfinished (eg: even though this mini series has a slightly open ending, it still has some resolution to the story in the final two pages). But, back in 2012-13, I still used to leave comics unfinished occasionally.

So, what did I do to stop myself from leaving comics unfinished? Here are a few very brief tips.

1) Plan first: One of the easiest ways to avoid unfinished comics is to plan out your comic before you make it. Just make a mock-up of your comic with extremely rough scribbled artwork.

If you lose interest or get severe writer’s block whilst making your plan, then either change it, take a break or try planning a different comic. This alone will help you to avoid comic ideas that are doomed to failure.

If you’re worried that planning will take some of the spontaneity out of making comics, then just remember that comic plans aren’t set in stone. If you think of a better panel arrangement, something else to add etc.. when you’re actually making the comic, then by all means do it. Just think of your plan as a backup that can come in handy if you get writer’s block.

2) Length: A shorter finished comic is better than a longer unfinished comic. So, when you’re planning your comic, try to be at least slightly conservative when working out how long it is going to be (not doing this to the right extent was one of the problems with my Halloween comic).

Remember, if your comic is going well, then you can always find ways to expand it beyond your original plan. It’s easier to expand a shorter plan whilst making a comic than it is to cut things whilst making a comic.

So, plan a short comic and – if it goes well – maybe make it longer.

3) Segmentation: This obviously won’t work for all comic projects. But, if you can make things that consist of lots of self-contained segments (such as stand-alone “newspaper comic”-style comics, short stories etc..) then the risk of leaving the project unfinished is a lot lower because, if you find that you are running out of enthusiasm or ideas, then you can just finish your current segment and leave it there.

Since each segment is self-contained, then there will be some kind of conclusion to your project even if you abandon it before making as many segments as you’d originally planned to make.

4) Endings: An abrupt, rushed, random and/or slightly open-ended ending is better than no ending. Any kind of resolution to your comic, no matter how sudden or badly-written is better than no resolution.

So, if you need to end your comic, then end it. Even if you rush the ending, then it’s still better than leaving your comic unfinished.

———-

Sorry for the short and abrupt article, but I hope it was useful 🙂

Advertisements

The Joy Of…. Unfinished Stories, TV Series etc…

2017-artwork-the-joy-of-unfinished-stories

The afternoon before I wrote this article, I’d just finished watching a DVD boxset of a TV show that was cancelled after it’s first season. No, it wasn’t “Firefly”, “Tokko” or “Harsh Realm”.

It was a TV adaptation of “Dracula” from 2013. It was clear that the makers of this show had anticipated a second season since, whilst not ending on a cliffhanger, the ending of the first season seems to be gearing up for a much more epic second season. A second season that never happened.

But, do I regret watching this unfinished TV series? No, not in the least.

One of the cool things about unfinished stories is that they’re often more about the journey than the destination. We may never know for certain what happens to the characters in an unfinished story, but we get to enjoy their adventures without any thought of the outcome. In other words, reading a story or watching a TV series with the knowledge that the story isn’t finished means that you get to see it more as an experience than as a traditional story.

Likewise, unfinished stories show us part of something greater and then leave it up to us to imagine what happens during the parts of the story that we don’t read or watch. Unfinished stories are kind of like a springboard for our own imaginations. They give us the building blocks of a longer story and then ask us to try to work out what the rest of the story looks like. And, well, your imagination is probably going to create a more enjoyable story for you than anyone else’s imagination will.

Another cool thing about unfinished stories is that they’re a little bit like daydreams. After all, whenever you have a daydream, it usually isn’t a complete “story”. It’s part of a larger story, almost like a single scene from a movie. And, well, unfinished stories (whether prose fiction, comics, games, TV shows etc…) are vaguely reminiscent of this.

Yet another reason why unfinished stories can be so fascinating is because they show that people have tried to produce something great. Generally speaking, nobody sets out to write an unfinished story or film an unfinished TV series. With fiction, real life can get in the way. Likewise, with prematurely cancelled TV shows, uncreative money-obsessed studio executives are usually responsible.

But the fact that some fragments of the story, comic, game, TV series etc… that could have been still exist is a testament to the power of creativity and determination. It shows that someone cared enough about one of their ideas to actually try to make it, even though there was a risk that it would be doomed to failure.

Finally, another interesting thing about unfinished stories is that they are realistic. After all, all of our lives are unfinished stories. No-one can know for certain what will happen in the future or anything like that. So, unfinished stories can be realistic in this way.

——

Sorry for the short, rushed article (I was making a webcomic at the time), but I hope it was interesting 🙂

When To Abandon An Unfinished Piece Of Art (And When Not To)

2016 Artwork when should you abandon your art article sketch

If you’re an artist, then you’ve probably had times where you’re not sure whether or not to continue making a particular painting or drawing.

Sometimes, this is a pretty clear-cut decision (eg: if your preliminary sketch looks terrible) but other times, it can be a much more decision (eg: if part of your preliminary sketch looks cool, but you’re not sure what to do next.).

So, I thought that I’d share my thoughts about this subject, using an example from the cyberpunk art series that I’ve been talking about quite a bit recently.

Anyway, the night before I wrote this article, I’d started sketching randomly and I’d sketched a slightly futuristic film noir-style character leaning against a chair and holding a traditional-style document file.

This is a recreation of my original unfinished sketch, made by digitally editing the line art for the finished painting (spoiler alert).

This is a recreation of my original unfinished sketch, made by digitally editing the line art for the finished painting (spoiler alert).

As this recreation shows, it had the potential to turn into an interesting painting, but I wasn’t sure what to do next. So, I asked myself a few questions…

Should I make the background look like an old film noir detective’s office? If I were to do this, then it would explain why the character was holding a traditional document folder (in the distant future). However, if I was to use this idea, then I’d got the composition of my sketch totally wrong (since the character should have been closer to the centre of the picture).

Should I add another character? If so, where do I add them? I mean, I hadn’t planned to add another character.

Should I set this picture indoors or outdoors? It’d have to be indoors because of the objects near the character, but I wanted the picture to have a sense of scale.

In the end, I wasn’t sure what to do and – rather than sitting around and not doing anything – I started drawing out the guidelines for another picture (eg: an 18×18 cm square with 1.5 cm “letterboxing” lines at the top and bottom).

Since I was very slightly pressed for time, I realised that I didn’t want to have to come up with a totally new idea for a painting again. So, I returned to my unfinished painting and tried to salvage it.

I took all of the questions that I’d asked myself and tried to find a compromise between each possible “yes” or “no” answer. I decided to set the picture in a library/archive – since it’d explain why the character was holding a traditional document folder in the distant future.

A traditional library would also have the ambience of an old office, but would also have the large expansive scale of an outdoor location (especially after I added the large windows in the background).

I also added another character too, but I kind of hid him behind a pillar slightly (which also gave me the chance to practice drawing people from unusual angles) etc… This is the final result:

"Archive Files" By C. A. Brown

“Archive Files” By C. A. Brown

Because I’d only made a relatively small part of this picture, I had a lot of room to work with when it came to working out how to salvage the rest of the picture. This can be a much more tricky decision to make when you’ve already sketched out large parts of your picture. But, if you’ve done this, then sometimes all it can take is a few small changes to salvage a picture.

In a way, there are no real “rules” when it comes to deciding whether to salvage or abandon an unfinished picture. It depends a lot on how much of a perfectionist you are and it depends on how good or bad your unfinished sketch is.

For example, because I try to make a piece of art every day – I’ve learnt not to be too much of a perfectionist. An unfinished picture has to look seriously terrible before I’ll give up on it.

However, if I’m totally and utterly “stuck” when it comes to deciding what to do next with a picture, then I’ll often move on to another one for purely practical reasons (since I actually want to have a finished painting by the end of the day).

Having a regular art schedule means that I’ll only decide to abandon a picture when it’s strictly necessary. However, this also means that I might end up with a rather crappy picture every now and then. Still, different things work for different people and you might not thrive by working to a regular schedule.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that there’s a middle ground when it comes to deciding whether or not to abandon your art. If you abandon every picture when there’s even a slight chance that it might not turn out well, you’ll never learn how to cover up mistakes, think quite as creatively etc… However, if you never abandon a painting then you might end up getting completely “stuck” when you might be better off starting a new painting.

I don’t know, it’s a complicated subject.

———————–

Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂

Another Look Inside My Sketchbooks

2015 Artwork sketchbooks March sketch 2

Well, once again, I wasn’t really in the right mood to write the article that I’d thought of writing for today (literally, I wrote about two paragraphs before giving up in frustation). But, rather than turn this into a depressing diary-style post, I thought that I’d share some more random doodles and failed drawings/paintings from my sketchbook with you today.

As usual, there will be the monthly “top ten articles” post tomorrow and I’m not sure if I’ll write a joke article or an ordinary article for 1st April. So, it may not be until the 2nd April that proper articles resume here. Sorry about this.

Anyway, I hope that you enjoy another look into the never seen before pages of my sketchbooks:

This was originally going to be a drawing called "Be All My Daydreams In Black And White", but I ended up abandoning it for some weird reason.

This was originally going to be a drawing called “Be All My Daydreams In Black And White”, but I ended up abandoning it for some weird reason.

This untitled drawing started out quite well, but my mind went completely blank when it came to thinking of an idea for the background.

This untitled drawing started out quite well, but my mind went completely blank when it came to thinking of an idea for the background.

This was another unfinished drawing. Again, I couldn't think of a good enough idea for the background if I remember rightly.

This was another unfinished drawing. Again, I couldn’t think of a good enough idea for the background if I remember rightly.

This was going to be a melodramatic painting/drawing of a medieval knight. But, for some weird reason, I ended up abandoning it.

This was going to be a melodramatic painting/drawing of a medieval knight. But, for some weird reason, I ended up abandoning it.

These were some random 3D shapes that I doodled in my sketchbook a couple of days ago when I was trying to think of an idea for a blog article.

These were some random 3D shapes that I doodled in my sketchbook a couple of days ago when I was trying to think of an idea for a blog article.

This was a random spaceship design that suddenly popped into my mind, probably when I was watching "Bablyon 5" on DVD recently.

This was a random spaceship design that suddenly popped into my mind, probably when I was watching “Bablyon 5” on DVD recently.

——–

Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂

The Stories And Articles That Never Were! (Deleted Scenes)

2015 Artwork unfinished articles post sketch

Well, I was procrastinating on Youtube a few weeks ago when I stumbled across this videogame review by General Lotz (one of my favourite game reviewers on Youtube).

Interestingly, this was a review that was supposed to be posted online in 2013 (?), but General Lotz didn’t think that it was good enough for some strange reason. Of course, it’s still an amazing review (and creative people often underestimate their own abilities and/or what their fans will like).

Anyway, after this, I wanted to do something similar here – so I thought that I’d give you a glimpse at some of my unfinished articles, short stories, reviews etc… from the past couple of years that never were.

Surprisingly, these actually took me quite a while to find – since most of the stuff I write usually ends up on here. But, this isn’t everything – so there may or may not be another one of these articles at some point in the future.

Still, I hope that you find this glimpse into my “rubbish pile” interesting. And, if you don’t, well, hopefully I’ll think of an idea for a proper article tomorrow.

—–

For your convenience, here’s an index of everything here:

1) “The Vitalist” (Unfinished Short Story)
2) “Art As A ‘Superpower'” (Unfinished Article)
3) Random Unfinished Short Fiction Fragment (Written on 6th August 2013)
4) “Dextek City Blues : Introduction” (Introduction To Unfinished Gamebook)
5) “The Joy Of… Space Opera” (Unfinished Article)
6) “Review: ‘Ghostbusters’ (Film)” (Unfinished Review)
7) “Review: ‘Battlestar Galactica: Razor (Extended Version)’ (TV Movie)” (Another Unfinished Review)
8) “Moonlight Sonata” (Unpublished (?) Poem)

Anyway, enjoy 🙂
——-

1) The Vitalist (unfinished short story)

It was never about magic. It was never about sorcery or necromancy or even just philosophy. It was about something much greater than all of that, it was about the very stuff of life itself. The energy that animates all living matter. It was all about finding the hand inside the glove in this puppet show that we call existence.

They called me mad and much worse, they hounded me out of every magazine and every university I went to. Even though I tried to dress it up in all sorts of interesting disguises – mitochondrial cell function, metabolic anomalies and even the latest New Age theory, it all came back to that one word. Vitalism. I’d read that word in every rejection letter and dismissive speech I’d received.

To the New Agers, I was being too scientific and to the scientists, I was another crank. Another Jane O’ Bedlam who thought that because they’d read something in an old book they deserved a full research grant, a doctorate, a publishing contract and a legion of lab assistants.

The thing about old books wasn’t really my fault. They were the only source material I had, even if they did occasionally go off on a tangeant about the four humours or the soul. Hell, I was working with everything I had.

——-

2) Art As A “Superpower” (unfinished article)

Despite loving Alan Moore’s “Watchmen” in my early twenties and being a fanatical “Power Rangers” fan when I was a kid, I’m not really a fan of the superhero genre.

Yes, I get that it was a way for American comic artists to keep producing crime comics after the introduction of the comics code in the 1950s – but, well, it’s just slightly too contrived for my liking.

I don’t know, it’s probably just the silly lycra costumes they wear- but I just can’t take superheroes seriously. Still, the genre isn’t entirely without merit….

The themes of double lives and secret identities in superhero stories are really fascinating (and this was used as a brilliant LGBT metaphor in the old “X-Men” films and in this poem by Julia Serano ) but, most of all, I find the idea of superpowers to be a really interesting one.

After all, who doesn’t want to have a unique “superpower” of some kind or another?

And, well, this made me think about art. You see, it can sometimes be fun to think of having the ability to create art as being a “superpower” of some kind.

——-

3) Random Unfinished Short Fiction Fragment (written on 6th August 2013)

It was like seven sparklers in a tin can. I stood there and watched as it sputtered and guttered in the corner. Harlow put his arm around my shoulder and said ‘Ha! Perfect. Just the reaction I was looking for.’

‘You really think it’ll work?’

Harlow brushed his fingers through his blue hair and nodded at me. We’d done it. Not that it was anything special, it wasn’t even a firework. Still, it’d be the perfect signalling tool. Small, discreet and easily-made. Laura would know exactly where to look.

‘You.’ I grinned at Harlow ‘ Are a genius.’

He kissed my neck and I kissed his. The trick with the beacon was that it was mostrly visible in infra-red. Laura could see it a mile away. Or, rather, eight miles away. That was the idea.

They’d been running us down for weeks and we knew Laura would be next. It was only a matter of time. Five of them had got to [random character name and time?]

—————

4) “Dextek City Blues : Introduction” (This was the introductory chapter to my unfinished attempt at writing a “fighting fantasy” -style cyberpunk gamebook in late 2013, which would have been based on my “CRIT” comic series from earlier that year.).

By the time that the last CEO verified the peace treaty, the city had been carved up into three sectors.

There was SYL-Corp’s sector to the north and Makerton-Riyadi’s sector to the east. But, as the viewscreens in every street tell you, you’ve had the good fortune to end up living in the Dextek sector. Fortune seems to be the right word, you think bitterly – it was only by chance that you ended up on this side of the border when the war kicked off.

Even with all the neon signs and technology adverts covering every corner of every street, it’s easy enough to remember that, only a year ago, you were charging along them with a pulse rifle in one hand and deep ochre bloodstains on your midnight-black Military Police fatigues. After the treaty had been signed, your sergeant liked you so much that she offered you either a command position in the Sector Security Police or a leadership position in the sector’s new C.R.I.T unit.

The C.R.I.T units were part of the treaty. Company Response Investigative Teams. Each company had one, they were supposed to be like a second police force – a secret police force – who were also tasked with upholding the terms of the treaty at any cost. From the rumours you’d heard in the mess hall, they were apparently even more bloodthirsty than the DX-TK Commando squads who, according to Head Office, never even existed.

So, you turned her down, vowing that you’ll never wear a uniform again. Brushing a strand of red hair behind her ear, she smiled coldly and said that she understood. But, as you turned in your uniform and badge, she said: ‘You know, there are two types of people in this city. Company people and everyone else. Don’t forget what you are.’

A year later, things aren’t going too badly. After paying off the right people, you’ve finally got your private investigator’s licence. As much as you hate to admit it, finding out things seems to be practically in your genes. Of course, the licence comes with a whole string of restrictions and conditions although most of them boil down to the fact that you aren’t allowed to carry weapons of any kind and, most of all, you are absolutely, categorically forbidden from interfering with criminal cases.

Yes, you think, you’ll mostly be checking whether people’s partners are as faithful as they say they are and snooping on sick employees. But at least being gutter-scum is better than being a uniform again, right?

Still, after a productive and fulfilling evening spent taking compromising photos of the husband of a prominent stockbroker and the husband of a nobody filing clerk from the district office, you get a call. The line is filled with static and the voice appears to be electronically disguised. From what you can make out, it says: ‘Reifland Street, behind waste unit forty three.’

The line crackles for a few more seconds. You tap a button on your comms unit and re-play the call. After about the third playback, you start to realise that this can’t be anything but the beginning of a criminal case. The terms of your licence dictate that you report this to the Sector Security Police immediately, but something about the tone of the synthesised voice makes you think that this wouldn’t be a good idea.

So, letting out a sigh and pulling up the hood of your cheap blue Cag-Tek waterproof jacket, you step out into the rain and look for a bus to Reifland street…..

——————

5) The Joy Of… Space Opera (Unfinished article)

Although this is an article about one of my favourite genres of writing and storytelling, I’ll probably mostly be looking at examples of it from TV – rather than in prose fiction or comics. This is mainly because there are many more great examples of this genre on TV than there are anywhere else. I am, of course, talking about space opera.

If you’ve never heard of space opera before, Wikipedia describes as: “a subgenre of science fiction that often emphasizes romantic, often melodramatic adventure, set mainly or entirely in outer space, usually involving conflict between opponents possessing advanced abilities, weapons, and other technology“.

In short, space opera is kind of like a soap opera, but with much more inventive storylines, far more interesting settings and – of course- characters that can usually go for five minutes without arguing loudly with each other. Examples of this include a lot of wonderful TV shows like “Firefly”, “Stargate: Atlantis” and all of the various versions of “Star Trek”

———

6) Review: “Ghostbusters” (Film) [Yes, I was going to review “Ghostbusters” last autumn, but I ended up abandoning it mid-sentence for some wierd reason]

Yes, strange as it may sound, “Ghostbusters” is one of many cinematic classics that I’ve never watched before. Well, until a few weeks ago at least. Seriously, I’m not really that much of a movie buff (and, yes, I still haven’t seen “The Great Escape” either).

So now, thirty years after it was originally realeased, I thought that I’d review “Ghostbusters” today. Seriously, who says that I’m behind the times?

As almost all of you probably already know, “Ghostbusters” is a comedy film about a group of freelance ghost exterminators in New York called “The Ghostbusters” who get together after Dr. Venkman (played by Bill Murray) has his parapsychological research grant at Columbia University cancelled.

One of their first jobs is to help out a professional cellist called Dana Barrett (played by Sigourney Weaver) who claims that there is mysterious entity inside her fridge called “Zuul”. Although Venkman and the team look into it, they can’t seem to find any answers. So, they eventually end up moving onto a series of other cases and becoming wildly sucessful.

However, after New York is thrown into chaos by a number of bizarre events, it quickly becomes clear that Zuul is more than just a figment of Dana’s imagination…..

One of the first things that I will say about this film is that it is a lot funnier than I expected it to be. Although most of the humour is fairly subtle and sarcastic, there are some absolutely

——-

7) Review: “Battlestar Galactica: Razor (Extended Version)” (TV Movie) [Yes, it’s another unfinished review]

Well, since it came as a freebie with the UK DVD boxset of the first half of season four of “Battlestar Galactica”, I thought that I’d take a look at the extended version of “Battlestar Galactica: Razor” today.

Before I go any further, I should also point out that this review will contain SPOILERS. You have been warned.

One of the other things I will say about “Razor” is that you probably shouldn’t watch it until at least after you’ve finished watching season two of “Battlestar Galctica”. If you haven’t seen the episodes featuring the Pegasus, then this feature-length episode probably won’t make that much sense to you. So, yes, this movie isn’t for people who are new to the series.

Although “Battlestar Galactica: Razor” is set after Admiral Cain’s death, it mostly focuses on life aboard the Pegasus before it’s encounter with Galactia in season two of the TV show. All of these scenes are shown via a new character called Kendra Shaw, who has flashbacks about her time serving under Admiral Cain throughout the film.

In addition to this, there is also a storyline about a raptor crew that has been captured by a renegade group of obsolete cylon centurions and a sub-plot about Bill Adama’s experiences during the first cylon war forty years before the events of the TV show.

If this description of “Razor” sounds abrupt, it’s because I’d probably end up writing several thousand words if I had to describe this film in more detail.Yes, it packs a lot of storytelling into just 99 minutes. Whilst this is quite an achievement and one of the film’s major strengths, it is also one of it’s major flaws too.

The main reason why I consider this tightly-packed storytelling to be a flaw is because it can make the film slightly confusing at times. The film occasionally cuts between different flashbacks and storylines at an incredible speed and, unless you’re taking notes, it can be easy to lose track of the storyline or remember exactly who is having a flashback during a couple of parts of the film.

As you might expect, “Razor” is primarily character-based and there is a lot of good characterisation and acting here. However, the film mainly focuses on just three characters – Kendra Shaw, Admiral Cain and Bill Adama and it does a reasonable job at giving these characters slightly more depth.

The most interesting of these characters is probably Admiral Cain. Although the film doesn’t provide a huge amount of backstory or extra detail about her, it shows us enough to make her at least a slightly less unsympathetic character than she is in the TV show.

Yes, Cain isn’t exactly presented as a heroic (or even likeable) character in the film but, for example, we get to learn some of the personal motivations behind her decision to allow the cruel treatment of the “number six” cylon prisoner on board Pegasus.

As for the new character, Kendra Shaw is shown to be one of Admiral Cain’s proteges and – in terms of her personality – she’s fairly similar to Cain. However, she feels a lot more morally conflicted about her time on Pegasus than Cain probably did. Still, we get to see a lot of her backstory and get to learn how her experiences moulded her into the character that she is for most of the film.

——

“8) Moonlight Sonata” (Unpublished (?) poem)”

Moonlight sonata,
a room at midnight,
music on repeat,
dog-end chesspieces
on a grey ash board.

Moonlight sonata,
incipient winter,
a coming darkness,
a little apocalypse.

Moonlight sonata,
amber streetlights,
unfinished stories,
dream of the eighties.

Moonlight sonata,
a song of memories.

Moonlight sonata,
warmth in the cold.

———

Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂 Hopefully, I’ll write a proper article for tomorrow.

How Much Should You Reveal About Upcoming Projects?

2014 Artwork should you previewsketch

Before I begin, I’m going to talk about a couple of my old unfinished and/or abandoned projects. Trust me, there’s a point to all of this……

Last month, I made a couple of cryptic references to a secret upcoming writing project that I was working on.

Unfortunately, this project seems to have stalled and is now on indefinite hiatus after only about three parts of it (totalling about 1300-1500 words overall) were written. It’s possible that I might pick it up again because I really like the concept behind it, but it seems unlikely at the moment.

Likewise, earlier this year, I’d planned to make a comic adaptation of a dystopic sci-fi/ horror novella called “Ephemera” I wrote in 2010. It was going to be very different to most of my previous comics projects, since it would be very aimed at a more mature audience rather than a more general audience.

In the end, I only made about 22 pages before I ended up abandoning the project due to stress, waning enthusiasm and a small amount of writer’s block.

Still, unlike my other unfinished project, I posted a few previews of “Ephemera” comic on here whilst I was working on it – and, just for the sake of it, here’s the cover art from this comic that never was…

"Ephemera - Cover" By C. A. Brown [Painted on 2nd March 2014]

“Ephemera – Cover” By C. A. Brown [Painted on 2nd March 2014]

The reason that I mentioned these things is because it made me think about how much writers and artists should and shouldn’t reveal about their upcoming projects. There are some fairly strong arguments both for and against telling your audience a lot about what you’re working on.

For starters, giving people a sneak preview of the stuff that you’re working on allows you to build anticipation and excitement amongst your fans. Not only that, it also makes your audience feel like they are part of the same creative journey that you are on, this provides moral support and validation for you and it provides more interesting stuff for your fans too.

But, on the other hand, revealing a lot about an upcoming project makes it a lot more difficult for you to cancel it if it doesn’t quite work out. It also sets up much higher expectations amongst your audience (which can be harder to fulfil) and – if your idea is new enough – it might give other people an opportunity to rip it off too.

Quite a dilemma, right?

The best piece of advice that I can think of is that you should only really consider showing off detailed previews either after you’ve finished your project or at least when you’re close to finishing it. The main reason for this is that it’s a good way to avoid getting people’s hopes up about something that you can’t deliver.

Plus, if you do this, then you don’t have to worry too much about your project stalling (eg: if you get writer’s block) or getting delayed. Not only that, you also have a wider range of stuff to choose from when it comes to deciding what to include in your preview.

Finally, if you wait until relatively close to the release before you put out a preview, then it’ll be harder for other people to rip-off your idea in the time between preview and publication.

But, if you’re confident that you’re going to finish a project, then giving people a few small tantalising glimpses at parts of it earlier on in the creative process can sometimes be a way of reassuring your fans that you’re actually working on the project that you say that you’re working on.

————-

Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Are Complete Stories And Comics Overrated?

2014 Artwork Story Comic Fragments Sketch

It’s one of the central commandments of writing fiction and making comics that a story should be complete, that it should contain a satisfactory narrative with a beginning, middle and end.

Well, I’m going to break that commandment. Not only that, I’m going to blaspheme against it and teach all manner of literary heresies to you.

Still interested? Great.

I suppose you are curious how I discovered this deeply heretical knowledge. And, like many great things, I found it by accident on Youtube.

A few weeks ago, I was looking at random stuff on Youtube when I discovered this absolutely hilarious (and not for the easily-offended!) animated series by Harry Partridge called “Starbarians” [NSFW].

“Starbarians” is a parody of old 1980s Saturday morning cartoons and it follows two hedonistic and thoroughly idiotic “heroes”, called Killgar and Hogstrong who roam the galaxy and usually cause more damage than they prevent.

It was one of the funniest things I’d seen that week and the animation quality is absolutely superb. But this isn’t a review of it. No, the reason that I mention “Starbarians” is because of it’s length – it consists of literally three short 3-5 minute films and a couple of trailers and/or animatics. And that’s it.

Although this is mainly due to the fact that Harry Partridge is working on lots of other projects and because high-quality animation takes lots of time and/or money to make (but low-quality animation doesn’t), the format of “Starbarians” accidentally illustrates something very interesting about storytelling.

You don’t always need a complete story in order to attract fans or even to make people interested in what you create. Yes, you heard me correctly.

The fact is that, if the characters are interesting enough, if the art is good enough (if you’re making a comic) and if the settings are distinctive enough (and crammed with tantalising clues about the rest of the fictional “world” that the story takes place in), then you can get away with just showing off what is essentially a small fragment of a much larger story.

Just remember to clearly point out that it’s a fragment of something larger, so that your readers don’t feel cheated or disappointed after they look at it.

In fact, come to think of it, I made an entire 175-page comic using this idea last year without even realising it. Wow! My art from back then looks absolutely terrible! LOL!

Anyway, why can fragments of stories still be very popular? Because they force your readers to use their imaginations to “fill in the gaps” about what happened before and after the events of your story and/or comic fragment. Because the backstories and endings that your readers will privately imagine after they’ve finished reading your fragment are probably better than anything that anyone else could write for them.

Not only that, there’s something irresistable about the idea of getting a sneak peek at something unfinished. There’s something irresistable about catching a glimpse of a novel or a comic that has never been fully made. I don’t know why, but there just is.

Yes, you probably won’t be able to sell your story or comic fragments directly – in fact, the only way to make money from them is probably to make them freely-viewable on a site with adverts. But, thanks to the existence of the internet, it’s now more than possible to publish these unfinished fragments.

Not only that, this technique probably works better in some genres than others – for example it’s perfect for comedy, given the vast history of parodies, short jokes and sketch shows in this genre. But, for something like a “serious” historical story, you probably won’t have the room to build up enough characterisation or suspense in just a single short fragment.

Even so, it’s certainly an interesting idea. And proof that good stories don’t always have to have a beginning or an ending.

——————-

Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂