The Webcomicker

Who watches the watchmen?

Monday, October 31, 2005

Breaking the rules (again)

I know when I first started this site it was with the promise that I would write about nothing but webcomics (not that the promise is really binding at this point, since I doubt anyone who frequents the site now has even read that post...), but I've found lately in my life that it's always a great temptation to compromise your morals at any given opportunity, and I am the type of person who makes those compromises.

So here's a compromise. I'm not talking about webcomics in this post. I'll make a brief reference to one of my own webcomics (I have two exercises in futility currently that really deserve more analyzation on this blog simply for instructing others that hey, not all comics are instant successes, and many have a great deal of trouble even getting off the ground. Mine are typical of the type of comics that never get off the ground, so it's worth mentioning why at some point so people can learn from my mistakes.), but other than that this post is about writing. Specifically, Nanowrimo.

For those of you that haven't figured it out, I like to write. In fact, I like writing much more than most of you probably realize from just reading this blog, because I do entertain writing projects in other venues which I don't discuss here. Nothing paid, mind you, just other opportunities to wax eloquent on various subjects. When I was in high school, I got about halfway (that's roughly 100 pages, for those of you keeping score) through writing a Star Wars novel before I realized that it sucked and I was a hack. The basic plotline was that Boba Fett goes to Tatooine, where he is hired by the Jawas to start a separatist movement against the New Republic. How exactly is this to be accomplished? Through some stroke of luck the Jawas have found a Victory Star Destroyer buried in the sands of Tatooine which they are rebuilding. Why Jawas would want to separate, or why Boba Fett would join them, is completely beyond me. I even managed to write in Jabba the Hutt's father, Zorba the Hutt (no, I didn't come up with the name.). I go back and read it now only for a laugh.

But I've realized that, on a whole, I haven't done much creative writing since that project. I've done some fan fiction (ok, technically the Star Wars thing was fan fiction as well, but I like to think I went beyond that to at least a new and different storyline), and I've written a fair amount of source material for my currently defunct detective comic, Gideon D. Ragon, but nothing really substantial. Enter Nanowrimo. This offered the perfect opportunity for me to get off my keister and actually do some creative writing. So I went ahead and signed up. Now, don't get me wrong, I hardly expect to actually write 50,000 words in a single month (especially since I'm not going to be within striking distance of a keyboard the entirety of Thanksgiving break). I'm probably one of the few official entrants in the contest who is actually coming in EXPECTING to fail, which is kind of a different experience for me. But that doesn't negate the goal. I want to get as darn near to 50,000 words as I possibly can. So I'm mapping out my plan. I figure with all of Thanksgiving week gone (that's Saturday to Saturday, mind you), I've got 22 days for writing. That's an average of 2272 and change words a day. My two weekends before Thanksgiving are pretty much wide open, so if I can really sit down and hammer out 10,000 words in a Sat/Sun (which is feasible), that lowers the daily average to a more manageable 1666 plus change words a day. So that's my gameplan. I won't stick to it, I'm sure, but it's nice to have a game plan.

But here's the problem. As I sit in front of my keyboard right now with t-minus 2 hours to take off, I have NO CLUE what to write about. I originally considered writing for Gideon D. Ragon, but the rules say that you're expected to start from scratch, not to add onto an existing work. While I could write an additional 50,000 words to Gideon (which I would enjoy doing, I might add), that would merely be complying with the letter of the law and not the spirit, and in this sort of competition, the spirit is what it's all about. The work you write for Nanowrimo is supposed to be an entirely self-contained work, written in it's entirety over the course of November and able to stand alone at the end as a monument, not simply as some 50,000 word piece of the puzzle. And I respect that concept.

Only, it still leaves me without something to write about. I've got a couple of ideas I've been kicking around in my head. One of them is sort of a "Biblical epic" type of story, taking legendary characters and really trying to bring them to life. That sort of writing is a unique challenge in and of itself, trying to portray the humanity of characters which have so often been elevated to the status of demigods without making it seem trite and especially without losing those traits which actually elevated the person that must remain in a more human form. I've also been kicking around a very anime idea about gunslingers in a quasi-futuristic Old West setting engaging in quickdraw competitions. Sort of a The Quick and the Dead meets Trigun type of feel. Of course, the challenge with a project like that is carefully crafting the characters and story to prevent it from becoming either a cheap, formulaic "let's duel for no reason but to have cool matchups" episodic structure or an overly melodramatic story that really takes itself much more seriously than it should be taken. That's a much tougher line to walk than most people realize, and when it's done well the results can be really satisfying, but when it's done poorly the resulting dredge can be downright sickening.

So I'll sit here pondering, and probably end up doing some other writing and reading some webcomics while I wait for 12 midnight to roll around, then I'll most likely just flip a coin or roll a die to determine what I'll write about, and go with that. Because, when it all comes down to it, Nanowrimo is't about WHAT you write, simply that you WRITE it. So I probably shouldn't stress over it.

Expecially since I'm already ready to fail. That makes it a lot easier.


At 1:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck with Nanowrimo! Sounds like alot of fun :)

At 10:50 AM, Blogger Gilead Pellaeon said...

I think I'll put up a little "Words written so far" tally in the links section so people can see how miserably I'm failing at any given moment. Yeah.

At 5:21 AM, Anonymous Philippe Gaboury said...

That post about nanowrimo was 1,111 words long and a great read throughout. I'd recommend not quitting ahead of time as, at that rate, I'm sure you have every chance of making it once you find your muse.

Break a leg!


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