Making Comics Vs Writing Fiction – What Are The Differences?

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Well, although I’m busy making this year’s Halloween comic at the time of writing, I thought that I’d talk about some of the differences between making comics and writing fiction.

Although I come from a writing background (eg: I’ve studied creative writing etc..), most of the storytelling that I’ve done over the past few years has been in comic form. Even though I got back into writing short fiction last year and wrote an interactive novella the year before, I’ve probably had more webcomic-making experience than writing experience within the past couple of years. Still, I’d like to think that I know enough about both mediums to be able to compare them.

So, here are a few of the major differences:

1) Art vs written descriptions: Whilst this sounds like a really obvious difference, it’s worth looking at. This is mostly because art and written descriptions both have their fair share of strengths and weaknesses. Although they fulfil the same role (eg: letting the reader know what everything looks like), they can do this in radically different ways.

The main strength of art in comics is that it allows the audience to instantly see what is happening. In addition to this, it also allows you to give your comic a unique atmosphere by using an “unrealistic” art style. When people read books, they usually tend to imagine the settings and characters in a fairly “realistic” way – regardless of how unique the author’s narrative voice might be. But, with art, you have the freedom to make everything and everyone look a bit more stylised.

Likewise, being able to alternate between art and dialogue in a comic gives you a greater level of control over the pacing of your story. If you want a scene in your comic to be slightly slower-paced, then you can add lots of dialogue and/or intricate art. If you want a scene to be faster, you can cut back on the dialogue and background detail slightly, and focus the reader’s attention on the actions that are taking place.

The only downside to all of this stuff is that, unless you hire an artist, you’ll actually have to learn how to draw and/or paint. This is worth doing, but it can take quite a bit of practice to get even close to good at it. In addition to this, you need to be at least vaguely competent at visual storytelling (eg: hinting at a story through visual details) because art lacks one of the strengths that written descriptions have.

That strength is that written descriptions can contain a lot more depth than art does.

For example, if you see a painting of a city, then you can only see whatever is in the painting. If you read a good written description of a city, then you might learn some of the city’s history, you’ll be told what life in that city is like, you might meet a couple of people who live there and/or you’ll get to take a close look at a few parts of it. In other words, you’ll get a much deeper understanding of the city.

Another strength of written descriptions is that they allow a lot more room for audience interpretation. A painting looks like whatever the artist wants it to look like. A description “looks” like whatever the audience imagines it to look like. By giving the audience a bit more control, it means that they are more emotionally invested in the story that you are trying to tell. After all, even though they might be following your instructions, they’re still building it for themselves within their own imaginations.

2) Dialogue: Dialogue in comics and dialogue in prose fiction might seem similar on the surface, but they are two radically different things that require two radically different skills to write well.

Due to the limited space in each comic panel, comic dialogue often has to be a lot shorter and more “functional” than dialogue in fiction does. Whilst there are some notable exceptions to this rule (eg: a webcomic called “Subnormality” by Winston Rowntree), most lines of dialogue in comics are often only about 1-3 sentences long.

You need to be able to do things like showing a character’s personality through phrasing and word choice (eg: the difference between “That was good!” and “Absolutely splendid!”) within a relatively small space. Likewise, you can sometimes use the dialogue for storytelling too (but beware of wordy descriptions standing in for things that should be shown via the artwork).

Comic dialogue is short, minimalist and functional. It has to be almost haiku-like in order to work well. After all, it’s only there to tell part of the story since you can also use the art for storytelling too, In many ways, it’s probably closer to writing the dialogue in a movie or a TV show than writing dialogue in prose fiction.

Prose fiction, on the other hand, gives you a lot more freedom with the dialogue. As long as it’s relevant to the plot in some way, your characters can have much longer and more naturalistic conversations. It’s easier to show a character’s personality through the dialogue and there’s a lot more freedom to use the dialogue to convey background information and story information. It’s easier and more intuitive to write than comic dialogue is.

On the other hand, unlike comics, prose fiction is read one word at a time. A comic panel might allow the reader to, say, read a line of dialogue and look at the art at the same time. With fiction, the reader can only read dialogue or descriptions at any one time. So, you have to pay a bit more attention to getting the mixture of dialogue and descriptions right.

3) Time and complexity: Comics are designed to be read quickly. A single webcomic update can be read in seconds, whereas a short story might take a few minutes to read. Since comics have less of a time cost, they can often be more attractive to audiences.

For example, last Christmas, I read a really cool 50-100 page graphic novel called “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? Dust To Dust” by Philip K. Dick, Chris Roberson & Robert Adler. It was the second half of a longer story and I blazed through the whole thing in the space of about twenty minutes.

That Christmas, I also read a 243-page novel called “Brighton Belle” by Sara Sheridan. It took me about 4-6 hours, spread across several days, to read it. Even accounting for length differences, the comic was a much quicker read.

The irony is, of course, is that the time differences are reversed when you are actually making comics or writing fiction. A single webcomic page that shows a small part of a slightly simpler story might take you 1-2 hours to make if you’re inspired. A 500 word segment of a written story (that tells a slightly more complicated story) might only take you 20-30 minutes to write if you’re feeling inspired.

Likewise, because of all of the things that I’ve mentioned earlier in this article, prose fiction is more well-suited to telling more complex stories. Comics, on the other hand, are at their best when they are telling slightly more focused and streamlined stories.

Both mediums require at least a slightly different approach to storytelling and, like with writing dialogue, these two types of storytelling require surprisingly different skills. A story that works well in a novel might not work well in a comic and vice versa. They really are astonishingly different mediums, despite some similarities.

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Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂

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Three Things That Books Could Learn From DVDs

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Well, I still seem to be in the mood for writing about books at the moment. So, as a counterbalance to the slight luddism of yesterday’s article, I thought that I’d look at some of the things that books can learn from DVDs. And, yes, I’m aware that watching DVDs is probably also bordering on luddism these days but, well, they’re still my favourite video format.

So, what can books learn from DVDs?

1) Special Features: Although we seem to be moving towards a world where DVDs are more ‘bare bones’ than they used to be (eg: thanks to Blu-ray discs getting all of the special features), the whole idea of “special features” was popularised by the DVD format. It was one of the things that originally set DVDs apart from VHS tapes 10-20 years ago.

Books could learn a lot from this. Although some modern novels do include additional stuff at the end, it usually just consists of either a list of reading group questions, an author bio and/or a small preview of the author’s next novel. By DVD standards, this would probably be considered ‘bare bones’. Sometimes, books will also contain a brief foreword or a list of acknowledgements too. But, this still doesn’t compare to the average DVD from the heyday of the format.

When I was a teenager who read a lot of grisly splatterpunk fiction, one of the most innovative things that I found was a page on Shaun Hutson‘s offical website which included things like extra short stories, a grossly disturbing “deleted scene” from one of his horror novels (which it is implied was possibly censored by the publishers) and an alternate ending to one of his other novels. I’m not going to link directly to Hutson’s official site here but, if you aren’t easily shocked, then the things I’ve mentioned can be found in the “exclusives” menu at the top of the home page.

But, the question I have to ask is why isn’t this sort of thing commonplace in actual books? Almost every published book usually ends up getting edited at some point or another. Most authors probably produce multiple drafts and versions of their stories, and probably end up adding, changing or removing stuff in the process. Would it really be that difficult to include a “deleted scenes” segment in most novels, showing off the best scenes that didn’t make it to the final edit?

2) Chapter titles and contents pages: Yes, books have had chapters for much longer than DVDs have even existed. But, if there’s one thing that is often missing from new books that have been published within the last couple of decades, it’s the good old fashioned “contents” page. A page which tells you how long each chapter is and which easily allows you to remember which chapters key events of the story took place in. It’s quicker to jump to a specific chapter on a DVD than it is to do the same in a modern novel.

Of course, there are practical reasons for this. Ever since Dan Brown popularised ultra-short chapters during the early 2000s, contents pages for some modern novels would probably be at least 3-4 pages long. Likewise, the decline in interesting chapter names (as opposed to just “chapter 1”, “chapter 2” etc…) has probably also lessened the popularity of contents pages in novels.

Yes, I appreciate that in some genres – like the thriller genre – short chapters can improve the pacing and that generic chapter titles are “unobtrusive”. But, in a lot of books, the lack of a contents page and/or proper chapter titles just comes across as lazy.

I mean, one of the cool things about TV shows on DVD is that the episode titles will often give tantalising hints about what to expect in each episode. A contents page filled with intriguing chapter titles can also do the same thing. It’s something that can make readers more interested in the story ahead. So, why isn’t it used more often?

3) Cover art: One of the cool things about physical media formats is that they include cover art. As well as being a source of entertainment, they’re also ornamental objects too. Not only that, the cover art also serves as a form of advertising – enticing people to look closer. These days, DVDs often have far more interesting cover art than novels do.

For example, here’s a side-by-side comparison of the covers of the 2011 Harper Voyager (UK) paperback edition of “A Feast For Crows” by George R.R.Martin and the cover art to the 2015 UK edition of the “Game Of Thrones” season 4 DVD boxset (which loosely correlates with some of the events of “A Feast For Crows”, if memory serves correctly):

Click for larger image.

Click for larger image.

The DVD cover on the right has a dramatic image of a screeching three-eyed raven made out of swords. The book cover on the left has… a goblet.

Likewise, although it’s a little hard to read in the scanned image, the DVD cover also has a melodramatic subtitle about death. The book cover, on the other hand, has a much more mild-mannered quote from Time Magazine. Even though both covers are fairly minimalist, the DVD cover is the more attention-grabbing of the two.

Yes, DVDs are a visual medium and it is easier for cover designers to make dramatic-looking covers by manipulating stills from the film or TV show in question. But, the DVD cover I showed you earlier isn’t directly taken from any scene from the TV show. It was designed by an artist and/or graphic designer, just like a book cover.

So, yes, there’s really no reason or excuse for books from large publishers (who can afford experienced professional artists and/or designers) not having the kind of attention-grabbing, dramatic cover art that is commonplace on DVDs.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Four Reasons Why Prose Fiction Being “Uncool” Is A Good Thing

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Leaving aside both politics and the news in general, if there was one thing that shocked me last year, it was how easy it was to get back into both reading and writing fiction again.

After having gone at least a year without properly reading a novel, I suddenly found myself reading a detective novel shortly after Christmas (and wondering why I ever stopped reading novels). Likewise, after drifting away from writing fiction for quite a while, I also managed to write 24 short stories last year (they can be read here and here ).

Yet, my experiences with only enjoying other types of entertainment media (DVDs, computer games etc..) during the time that I wasn’t reading or writing much fiction made the differences between these things stand out a lot more. Returning to prose fiction felt reassuringly familiar, even though it didn’t have the same “coolness” that other media often have. Still, this isn’t an entirely bad thing. Here are a few reasons why.

1) There’s less pressure: When I got back into reading fiction, I read a novel from 2012 by an author that I hadn’t really heard of before (“Brighton Belle” by Sara Sheridan, if anyone is curious). In fact, aside from a few famous authors, many of the novels that I’ve read and really loved are stories that probably aren’t that well-known when compared to, say, the latest films or games.

One of the cool things about fiction being less “cool” than other media is that there’s a lot less pressure to be ‘up to date’ with everything. Since books don’t usually tend to have saturation advertising coverage, there’s less of a feeling of falling behind current culture than there is if you haven’t seen the latest movies or if, like me, you prefer to play older and/or lower-budget computer games.

Plus, since there are so many authors in so many genres, there isn’t really one “mainstream” culture when it comes to fiction, in the way that there is with things like film, television and games. This again, means that there’s less pressure to keep “up to date”, because there are just too many writers, genres etc.. for anyone to keep up to date with. So, it’s a lot more relaxed as a consequence 🙂

Likewise, because the vast majority of authors aren’t celebrities, discovering a great author is all the more interesting. Yes, even with popular authors like Lee Child, there’s still an actual sense of discovery when you read one of their books for the first time. In other words, you have the satisfaction of finding something that you love, rather than just watching or playing something because it’s what everyone else is into at the moment.

2) There’s less greed: Keeping “up to date” with film, television and gaming seems like a fairly expensive hobby. Since these things cost millions to produce, there tends to be a lot of greed involved. A good example of this would be how modern large-budget games always require you to have the latest computer or the latest games console. Or how television seems to be moving more towards numerous online subscription services etc..

Although e-books are still a thing these days, there are no “system requirements” for traditional books. You can still read books from past decades and modern novels without having to “upgrade” anything. As long as you can read, then you can read anything.

If you want to check out something modern by your favourite author, then it’s only going to cost you the £7-10 it costs to buy a new paperback (or less if you buy second-hand, or wait for a special offer). You don’t have to spend hundreds on extra electronics, you don’t have to pay a subscription fee or even travel to a cinema. At the very most, you might splash out £20-30 on a hardback edition if you absolutely have to read the latest novel right now.

Because fiction is an old and an “uncool” medium, then there’s a lot less greed involved in it. Which is great for the audience 🙂

3) There’s more personality: One of the cool things about prose fiction is that there’s only one person involved in creating it. Although an editor might have made some improvements, when you read a novel, you’re reading the exclusive work of just one person. As such, novels tend to have a lot more ‘personality’ than other types of entertainment.

I can’t remember where I read this, but I remember reading that one reason why older computer games are more creative and interesting than their modern counterparts was because they had smaller teams of people working on them. The fewer people involved in a creative project, the more distinctive it tends to be. The fewer people there are, the more people feel free to experiment or to do something that might “rock the boat”.

And, as I said, most novels are only written by one author (and maybe an editor too). They may not have the polished flashiness of things that are designed by large teams to have mass appeal (eg: blockbuster movies etc..), but there’s a real sense of individuality and imagination in prose fiction that is often lacking in other media (except possibly [non-superhero] comics).

4) It’s wonderfully solitary: Unfortunately, we live in a very “social” age at the moment. Even modern video games are apparently no longer something that you play alone or with one or two friends. These days, the most popular games tend to be heavily focused on online multiplayer, at the expense of traditional single-player or local multiplayer gaming.

Well, one of the cool things about books which, paradoxically, is why they’re seen as “uncool” – is the fact that they are resolutely solitary things 🙂

Only one person can read a copy of a novel at any one time, and everyone who reads the same novel will probably imagine the characters, locations etc… in a slightly different and unique way. They’re a truly private and solitary form of entertainment 🙂

Best of all, in the good old days before the invention of *ugh* smartphones (and even for a fair while afterwards), reading a book in public was the easiest way to avoid unwanted conversations, eye contact or other social interactions. And, unlike a mobile phone, there’s no danger of a book ringing suddenly or running out of battery.

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Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂

Three Ways To Make Things That Will Inspire Other People

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Although I’ve probably talked about this topic ages ago, I thought that I’d return to it today. I am, of course, talking about how to make things that will inspire other people to create things.

It’s kind of like how “Blade Runner” was just one film from the early 1980s, but it has inspired and influenced more things in the sci-fi genre than anything else.

Or like how “Sherlock Holmes” was a series of detective novels and short stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle from the late 19th century/early 20th century which has influenced virtually everything made in the detective genre since then.

Or how “Doom” was a computer game from the early-mid 1990s that popularised the first-person shooter genre in a way that no prior game could.

So, how do you make something that will inspire other people? Here are a few tips:

1) Ambiguity: One way to make something that will inspire other people is to leave as much to the imagination as possible. Yes, you’ve still got to dazzle the audience with interesting backgrounds/settings/characters/events etc…., but you’ve also got to leave a lot to the imagination too.

Why? Because it makes the audience curious and, if they’re curious enough, then they’ll probably start making new things of their own in order to explore the things that you’ve left hidden.

For example, a fair amount of my own art is inspired by the movie “Blade Runner”. To show you what I mean, here’s a painting of mine (which was also inspired by “Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex) that appeared here a while ago:

“Architecture” By C. A. Brown

But why was it “Blade Runner” (and not, say, “Star Trek” or “Star Wars”) that influenced me so much? Although there’s a “Blade Runner” sequel coming out soon, it was a stand-alone film for quite a long time. So, there was just one film that gave the audience a few tantalising glimpses at a giant, detailed futuristic world and then just left the rest of it to our imaginations.

Seriously, apart from a few streets, a few cityscapes and several building interiors, we don’t actually get to see that much of the “world” of this film. But what we do see is absolutely fascinating. So, it is up to us to imagine what the rest of the film’s “world” looks like. And, if you’re an artist or a writer, then this is a good starting point for coming up with your own original sci-fi art, fiction etc…. Just remember the difference between inspiration and plagiarism though.

So, yes, if you show just enough to tell the story, but leave a lot of tantalising details to your audience’s imaginations, then you’re probably going to inspire other people.

2) New mixtures: As the old saying goes, there is nothing new under the sun. It is quite literally impossible to create something that is truly “100% original”. That said, the things that tend to have the most influence on other artists, writers, comic makers, game developers etc… are more original than average. But, how do they do it?

Simple, they find something seemingly “unrelated” and add it to a well-known genre. For example, Sherlock Holmes wasn’t the first fictional detective, but he’s the most influential one for the simple reason that he was the first to apply deductive reasoning and the scientific method to solving crimes. Previously, no-one had really thought of combining science and logic with the detective genre. These days, you’d be hard-pressed to find a detective story that doesn’t involve science or logic in some way.

Likewise, “Blade Runner” certainly wasn’t the first science fiction film ever made. It wasn’t even the first thing in the science fiction genre to question what it is that makes us human. But it was one of the first films to combine the film noir genre with science fiction. It was also one of the first western sci-fi films to take visual inspiration from large cities in countries like Japan, South Korea etc… too.

So, if you can find an interesting way to add something new to a familiar genre, then there’s a good chance that the things you create will end up inspiring other people.

3) Timelessness: One other way to make something that will inspire other people is to make something that is timeless. Thinking about it more, the best way to do this seems to be to make sure that the underlying structure of the thing you’re creating is the kind of thing that has a universal appeal.

For example, the original “Doom” is a computer game from 1993. It looks very old. It was originally distributed on floppy disk. In fact, you can play it using nothing more than the keyboard if you want to. It looks very 90s, but it’s an iconic game that people have been playing (and modifying, updating etc..) for over two decades because it is fun!

It is a game that focuses on fast-paced combat, basic puzzle solving and strategy (eg: many challenging modern fan-made levels for “Doom”/”Doom II” pretty much require you to know the ‘rules’ of the game, and how to use them to your advantage). These things are timeless and universal.

Likewise, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original “Sherlock Holmes” stories are (mostly) set in the 19th century (“His Last Bow” is set in 1914 though). But, they have a timeless appeal for the simple reason that the underlying structure of the stories revolve around a highly-intelligent detective using science and logic to solve crimes.

This part of the stories is timeless and it’s one reason why Sherlock Holmes has not only inspired many other fictional detectives, but why he can be easily transposed into more modern settings (eg: like in the BBC’s “Sherlock” series) and not seem out of place.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

The Staying Power Of Characters – A Ramble

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A while before I wrote this article, I was watching an episode of “Doctor Who“, when I suddenly started thinking about how this TV series has run for so long (more than 50 years!) because the main character isn’t linked to any one particular person. And, more importantly, how this is an integral part of the series.

For those who have never heard of “Doctor Who”, it’s a series about a time-travelling alien called The Doctor who goes on all sorts of interesting adventures across the galaxy and throughout history. One interesting feature of this show is that The Doctor has multiple lives and “regenerates” into a different-looking person (with the same memories, but a very slightly different personality) after dying.

This has, of course, allowed numerous people to play The Doctor over the years – each bringing their own interpretation to the character, whilst keeping the show fairly consistent at the same time. Apart from the fact that The Doctor is always highly intelligent, militantly pacifist and at least slightly eccentric, every version of The Doctor is different and yet similar at the same time.

This made me think about characters in general and how things like prose fiction and comics have a huge advantage over virtually every other type of storytelling media out there.

In comics and prose fiction, characters are just that – characters. They can easily make cameo appearances in other stories and they can disappear for months or years (if a series goes on hiatus) and then reappear completely unchanged. Their voice-acting is always perfect (after all, it’s left up to the audience’s imaginations) and, if needs be, they can be written or drawn by multiple people at different times, with relatively little visible change.

Seriously, if you want to see characters and characterisation in it’s “purest” form, then you need to read some comics or novels. After all, the character is the character. They aren’t a particular actor or voice actor. They’re just a character. They are timeless.

In addition to this, since the audience has to add some of their own imagination to make a character in a comic or a novel “come alive”, it also means that the characters will always be the audience’s definitive version of that particular character. After all, if the audience unconsciously build the characters themselves (through reading descriptions, looking at static images etc..) then they are going to do this in the way that they feel is best.

For example, I’ve never seen the “Jack Reacher” film (and don’t intend to) but I’ve read at least a few of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels. My first thought upon reading about the film adaptation was something along the lines of “They chose Tom Cruise?! WHY? He looks nothing like Jack Reacher!“. Personally, my own mental image of what Jack Reacher looks like is probably closer to Kiefer Sutherland or Dolph Lundgren than Tom Cruise. But, someone must have imagined that he looked like Tom Cruise.

In other words, traditional storytelling mediums show characters to be what they truly are – products of the imagination. They are imaginary people who exist in the imaginations of hundreds or millions of people, with no two versions of the character being exactly alike. The character is more of an idea than anything else.

But, whenever this is replicated outside of prose fiction or comics, it never quite works. After all, we only see one other person’s idea of that character. Because of this, films, TV shows, videogames etc… are rarely able to immerse the audience in character creation in the way that books or comics can.

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Sorry for the short (and rambling) article, but I hope it was interesting 🙂

Top Ten Articles – August 2017

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Well, it’s the end of the month and that means that it’s time for me to compile my usual list of links to my ten favourite articles about making art, making comics, writing fiction etc… that I’ve posted here during the past month. As usual, I’ll also include a couple of honourable mentions too.

This month was kind of a strange one, since there were far more writing-related articles than usual (mostly because, due to writing these articles in advance, I was also busy writing these short stories whilst preparing this month’s articles).

Likewise, thanks to being busy with other projects, I ended up using recycled title graphics quite a bit this month – although thankfully, the quality of the actual articles didn’t really suffer though. Plus, it also meant that my planned review of “Shadowrun: Dragonfall” has been pushed back even further, since I had been too busy to complete all or most of the game whilst preparing this month’s articles.

Anyway, here are the lists 🙂

Top Ten Articles – August 2017:

– “Three Reasons Why It’s Important To Be “Well Read” (In Written Or Visual Media) If You Are An Artist, Writer etc…
– “Three Tips For Making Minimalist Art (Or, My Interpretation Of It)
– “Three Tips For Finding Your Own Artistic Interpretation Of ‘Retro’
– “Four Ghoulish Tips For Making 1980s-Inspired Horror Artwork
– “Three More Tips For Making Better Paintings When You’re Extremely Tired
– “Three Random Tips For Writing Cyberpunk Comedy
– “Three Basic Tips For Coming Up With Cyberpunk Stories
– “Three Basic Ways To Connect A Group Of Cyberpunk Short Stories
– “Do You Need To Be Tech-Savvy To Write Cyberpunk Fiction?
– “Four Tips For Writing Cyberpunk Fiction Quickly

Honourable mentions:

– “Three Tips For Writing (Cyberpunk) “Flash Fiction” Stories
– “Three Tips For Including Popular Culture In Your Webcomic

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 🙂