Writing For Comicbooks

A bookcase of comicbooks.
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

I’ve been a full-time comicbook reader since I was 13. I read my first book when I was 7 when a dog-eared copy of an issue of The Brave And The Bold came into my possession.

I’ve had many RPG publications of the superhero variety. I founded an APA about comicbooks in 1990 and a zine about them in 2007. In 2009 it won an award here in Canada. In part, a series I read in the 1990s is an influence on my novel.

With all these influences and past ones and my writing skills, you’d think I’d be a lock to write comicbooks.

You’d be wrong

I was successful with one short script, but every other I’ve tried failed.

(Many writers would only hype themselves as successful. Not me. I admit –and own — my gaffes.)

1999

This was the year of my sole success in writing the script for a short story in a comicbook.

It was for an erotica anthology a friend asked me to contribute to.

That’s not a genre I’m comfortable writing. In fact, I’ve never been able to again.

I soldiered through, putting the smallest of adult scenes, and for the lack of a less bizarre term, I wrote a literate erotica tale.

My friend liked it. His editor… not so much. The important thing, but paid.

Steampunk Revolutions

Steampunk Revolutions

In 2014 I tried again. I knew very little about the steampunk genre, but I thought I had a good story idea.

I never finished it. Still haven’t. I’ve broken one of Heinlein’s Laws (finish what you start).

The Future?

Maybe I’ll do better in the superhero genre since I read that a lot. I won’t try it yet, however. I have my novel and other projects to finish first.

Wrestling: an Alternate Fighting Style

May Not Be What You Think

All I could find royalty-free was teenagers in amateur wrestling, but this image is for professional wrestling.
Photo by Chris Chow on Unsplash

Before you brand me a fool. hear me out! I’m not saying this is real. I’ve been watching it for nearly 40 years and always knew it was orchestrated. It’s like stuntmen in movies, except matches sometimes go for longer.

No matter, wrestlers can show you a lot about developing a character (a man was always seen as a Russin was revealed when he died as French Canadian), getting others to care about an upcoming match, and even some basic storytelling (yes, a good match tells a story). There’s much to learn.

Origin of This in my Novel

When I created Rigger, Mortiz, and Shivver decades ago, puns were a huge part of the name choices.

When I created Alex Rigger, I thought of him as a former wrestler, ‘Oil Rigger’. 

I’m what folks call a ‘smark’ (a smart mark. Smart enough to know what’s happening, but still a mark for my favorite performers). 

Why a Wrestler?

Some people I know would wonder why I’m writing another wrestler (I’ve created a few). Thing is there is a saturation of former boxers and martial artist characters. I’m trying something different. 

Style

The fighting style is different. Some of the moves are flashy, but couldn’t be used in the real world. They would cause fatalities if they were. 

A lot of real fights would be punches and kicks, with some basic slams thrown in, dropkicks and clotheslines too. 

Another interesting thing about fights using wrestling: as with many Kung Fu fights, many wrestlers have a different style. Some of the bigger guys don’t do aerial moves… some of them do, but it’s considered unusual in the US and just looks strange in Japan. In writing, we just strive for uniqueness. 

In the hand of a good writer (hope I am), this could be interesting. 

I’m going to try to post here more often. I’ll wait until I’ve done a few more to state a schedule, so I don’t let readers down. 

Making Snow-Mageddon Useful

I was shut-in today (Feb. 13, 2019) due to the record snowfall outside (for my American readers it was more than 1 foot of it.

It’s 2 days later when I finish this post, Feb. 15. Belated Happy Valen Day.

Valen on Babylon 5.

Rather than do nothing on my time off, I was as productive:

Continued Ninja Writing

I spoke of that in my last post.

I worked on the next draft of my novel every day. I’m a few days closer to finishing as a result. I also found new things to add to it that I didn’t before. That’s the beauty of rewrites.

Updating This Blog

Although it wasn’t at the speed that I’d like I did this post. Even though the post and the amount of time it took don’t line up, all that matters is it’s here.

Reading More

I fell behind on reading magazines I’m subscribed to, so I’m doubling my daily reading.

So, the heavy snow kept me from travel, but I still did a lot else.

Welcome, 2019!

I’m becoming an old man: I fell asleep, missing the ball drop, and woke after 3 AM… in the new year.

Many folks will make resolutions for the year. I’m not one of them.

Folks Always Fail Them

Instead, I do things differently, and get a lot of stuff done as a result:

I Make Goals

This year will be no different. Some goals are obvious. some not as much:


Photo by Jazmin Quaynor on Unsplash
  • Update this blog more. I’ve written a lot on Medium in 2018, but not a lot on this blog. I need to fix that in 2019.
  • More movement on my novel. I finished my first draft in early 2014. I have been using Ninja Writing to write revisions (more on that in another post). I’m into Act Two now.
  • Justify my award. In 2009 I won an Aurora Award for a newsletter. I stopped in 2012. I’ve been writing my next issue for a long time. I hope to publish it soon.

I’ll stop my list there. We’ll see how well I do by 2020.

Changing Views

Over time my views on different facets of writing have changed, in some ways contradicting other, previous posts on this blog:

Reading While Writing

Here’s my past view on this. Things changed from a quote by Stephen King. I don’t like King as a person thanks to a meeting years ago, but I still think he was right about this:


“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. …”

Stephen King

I modify this a bit: I write –and read — fiction and non.

Each one uses different ‘muscles’, different genres. different styles.

So: I read both now, each with their respective style.

Work For Free

I posted two differing views on this here and here.

Well, I don’t write anything for free like Wil, with exceptions: I still write for the newsletter at work, this blog, and Medium… but when I join their Partner Program,  I have a chance to earn on it. 

So,

I may seem wishy-washy, but I have a method.

How I’m Getting Back Into Regular Writing

I haven’t updated this blog with new content in a long time. Both my short story and my novel have been stalled. I hope to get a habit of regular writing started again.

Why?

The blog was due to burnout. Although this blog I’ve been publishing on for more than 3 years, I’ve grown exhausted at continuing that schedule proved to be tiring.

My Steps to Solving That

I’ve begun a new content calendar to get this (and other social media) onto a more regular posting schedule. In the past, I just posted online at random times. Hopefully, I won’t from now on.

To help me to post here more often, I’ll  prepare several posts before I launch them here, so I’ll have a bank of pieces to post every week. In the past, I would prepare one piece at a time; as a result, I would always have the pressure to update while the content suffered. This way, that pressure will be lessened.

That’s one piece of my new writing strategies:

Short Story/Novel

Short story collection

Short story collection (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These too sat around untouched for a long time. Far too long.

The Reason for My Long Delay

The reason is also proof that I’m truly a writer: self-doubt.What is that? It’s something that many other writers have experienced (including the far-better-than-I Neil Gaiman): a voice in my head – and in many others – says that we’re not good enough, we can’t finish what we start either.

English writer Neil Gaiman. Taken at the 2007 ...

English writer Neil Gaiman. Taken at the 2007 Scream Awards. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The voice is crippling. I didn’t touch my novel for over a year as a result.

How I’m Solving That (regular writing)

Two things are helping The first is one we’ve always used for NaNoWriMo: ignore it.

There we call it our Internal Editor and do our best to not pay attention to it.

The other thing that I’m doing is that I joined a group called Ninja Writers. They have a pretty active Facebook Group [here], and also a Patreon that I’ve joined.

Ninja Writers logo

Ninja Writers is based off a philosophy espoused by the late Ray Bradbury:

Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens.

Photo of Ray Bradbury.

Photo of Ray Bradbury. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The basic idea is that every day I write for 10 minutes and I also read for another 10. The idea isn’t that new. I’m a member of another Group called 10 Minute Novelists [here], and I bought a book about starting a similar writing habit of 8 minutes per day.

Regardless of the amount of time, the important thing is to build up a regular habit of writing. I have to rebuild mine. Plus: so far, it helped me to finish the first draft of my novel, and to break my inertia on the short story for my e-mail list.

I thank Ninja Writers for that. I’m back to regular writing because of it.

I realize that I’ve said I was restarting before. I hope that this time it works.

Why I’m an indie author re-visited

I’ve been suffering “blog burnout” for some time. To counteract it I’m rewriting older posts with some new content as well.

If I was under a contract to a big company, I could only write the books that  I was under contract for. I could write other things, but I’d likely have to sit on them for a different deal,=  or have to publish them under another publisher, under a pseudonym.

As an indy, I can publish whatever I want whenever I choose to.

Example: I’m writing a short story for my email list (set in the ‘world’ of my novel) and have the outline for a non-fiction work after I’m done with the novel, as well as notes for another series… my mind is busy!

Advantage: indie pub

Independent Truck Company logo

Independent Truck Company logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If I was under a contract to a big company, I  would be hampered to writing in just one genre, and just one style. If I was signed for one series, I would be forced to write for that series alone. If it was for novels (it often is) I could only write novels and not short stories or non-fiction (the exception being if they help to drive interest to your contracted novels, and if they don’t affect your contract time).

[Of course, Steven King, James Patterson, and J.K. Rawlings are exceptions to this rule.]

As an indie pub author, on the other hand, I can write and publish whatever  I want and when I want to. I can start one series, then another, then put out an unrelated short story or a non-fiction work. I have that freedom.

See what I said above.

Winner: INDIE PUB

People under contract to a big publisher have no control over how their work is presented.

Indie pub authors control every aspect. The cover art is what they chose, as are the fonts (for a hardcopy book; for eBooks it’s still not under your control) and even illustrations inside the book.

You can print on demand and/or e-publish on Kindle/Nook/epub/Smashwords/whatever you choose.

[If you pick the  Kindle KDP program you can’t try another for 90 days..]

ADVANTAGE: INDIE PUB

Audiobook? Indy Pub authors can do this at will, and profit from it. Authors on contract can too — if they’re on the contact to get paid for it. Otherwise, the publisher might produce one, but all profits go to them.

ADVANTAGE: INDIE PUB

To play Devil’s Advocate, there is a big negative: all the costs (art, editing, advertising, etc.) come to you. After your first work sells, you can set money aside for the next one, but that first one may cost a lot.

grudging win: traditional pub

Novels in a Polish bookstore

Novels in a Polish bookstore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The one minus doesn’t outweigh the positives, though.

My final post of 2016: Reflections

Here are my reflections on the year passed…

I haven’t posted here since early October. Blog burnout is as self-doubt in writing. I’m experiencing both at the same time.

El domingo 20 de marzo de 2011, a las 17:00 ho...

Lucky me.

Part of the Bad Year

2016 has been a bad year for many of us. Music icons have died. Many.  Celebrities in many other fields died. Just 3 days ago as I write these words

Carrie Fisher at WonderCon 2009.

Carrie Fisher at WonderCon 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Princess Leia from Star Wars, Carrie Fisher, died of a heart attack.  A day later

 

her mother Debbie Reynolds died of a major stroke (though many say it was caused by heartbreak).

There were also far too many terrorist slayings (anything more than 0 is too many). Also, many hate crimes including the slayings at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

I won’t even mention the recent US Election results… sort of. I won’t go into them in detail,  a) because this isn’t a politics blog and b) a good way to burn bridges with potential readers would be to tick them off with partisan rants — so I won’t do any. All I will say is that it was an ugly election, and I hope never to see one like it again anytime soon.

In terms of my writing, as I said 2016 was not great for me either. with these words, you may be wondering if this is meant only as a gloomy post. I’m only explaining part of why 2016 is a year we’d all like to forget, me too. I’ve already started steps to make 2017 a better year for me.

Things to Come

I already have an article ready for a friend’s fanzine, and I’m working on a second one for another issue. I will  =use this to galvanize me to relaunch my own zine from dormancy and to write a few letters for other zines that I’m a member of.

I’ve  created a new editorial calendar to bolster the regular posting of updates on this blog, to get the newsletter for my mailing list more regular… and (I hope) to help me to get my short story done and my novel after it.

Goodbye to 2016. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out – and may 2017 be a good year!

 

Definition of Dramedy, part one

My short story and novel – and the series that they’re a part of – supernatural dramedy, is fairly new to fiction (although technically Janet Evanovich does it in all but name), but it has a long history on television.

The word ‘dramedy’is a combination of ‘drama’ and ‘comedy’. As a genre, it combines them too: the subject matter is dramatic, with moments of humor mixed in.

English: Joss Whedon at the 2010 Comic Con in ...

English: Joss Whedon at the 2010 Comic Con in San Diego (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Joss Whedon has made his career in this genre; see Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and more… but there were other series before them.

One of the most popular (although there were others) was LA Law. It ran from Sept. 15, 1986, to May 19, 1994.

 

David E. Kelley was showrunner until the end of the fifth season of the show, and it also gave new life to the career of actor Susan Day (Laurie Partridge on The Partridge Family) as Grace von Owen.

The series was set in the fictional law firm McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney, and Kuzak.

What makes this an example of dramedy: the show deals with serious issues (AIDS, LGTBQ issues,racism,domestic violence, etc.) but wrapped around the issues were running gags and other bits of humor.

For example partner Chaney dies of a heart attack in the opening of the first episode, but at first, nobody knows because all we see is his hand clutching a tax manual. At his funeral, we learn that the secretary he last hired is transgender and that they met originally at a gay bar (this revelation comes to his wife just now). He paid for the secretary’s surgery, and the hire was meant to be the first real world test. One of the surviving partners fires her immediately due to his transphobia.

(This was in the late 1980s, and the firing character was an over-sexed womanizer. Regardless, I don’t find that funny now.)

This series was co-created by Steven Bochco, and it had a large ensemble cast. Rigger, Mortiz and Shivver doesn’t have as big a cast, but there is an ensemble nonetheless.

I’ll continue this in my next post.

YA: Today’s Buzzword

That’s an abbreviation for young adult fiction. It is also a descriptor because it can fit into nearly any genre. There is YA science fiction, YA Dystopian, YA fantasy, and so on. What makes it YA is just that the protagonist(s) is/are teenager(s). The main goal of this literary genre is that it gives young people more reason to read.

There are many subset genres of YA

There are many examples of this field, some of which I’ll cover more in  other posts on this blog, but they  include the Harry Potter  book series, the Divergent one, and the current big hit, The Hunger Games.

The Hunger Games (film, YA hit)

The Hunger Games (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wrote one my third NaNoWriMo titled Introvert. It was my most successful to date, writing the most words per day and completing it in record time for me.

The one rule that I’ve seen to all YA fiction that I’ve seen is a rule that makes sense:

“No sex”

This doesn’t mean that all teenagers don’t; although frowned on, some teens do, even though they aren’t all mentally ready.

What I mean is that as a rule, you don’t describe it in detail (or at all). Doing so risks making your fiction seem to be child pornography, and put you at legal risk.

The field for this fiction (so long as you follow the rules) is huge, with the potential for the books to become films. It’s also a field that I have ideas for… I have to locate my file for Introvert because I have an idea for a sequel.

Photo by {Guerrilla Futures | Jason Tester}