Wednesday, July 8, 2009

How Do You Write?

If you've come here today for another one of Pierre's awesome articles on animation, then you may be in for an unpleasant surprise, as this post is from me (Jim) not Pierre.

Where is Pierre? Well, he's on a Top Secret animation gig in Canada. I say Top Secret, because I can't remember if he told me what the assignment was or not. I'm hoping he's keeping a detailed journal about his experience so he can tell us all about it in future blog posts.

The animation gig has a rigorous deadline and he's been really busy, so, I've decided to give him a bit of a break on his Wednesday posts today.

Which brings me to the title of today's posts. Twice in the last two weeks, I have been asked How Do You Write?

At first I was going to just throw together a post on the subject, but both people who sent me the question included their regimen for writing which I found very interesting and helpful.

So it occurred to me that perhaps the better thing to do would be to ask everyone who reads this blog, how do you write/create? What is your process?

If you aren't a creator, I'd like to hear what you look for in writing. After all, what your audience wants in a story is just as important, if not moreso, as what the writer wants in a story. :)

Answers to the question can be as long or short as you wish. I'll post any answers I receive either via email or blog posts here on my blog next Wednesday.


Caine said...

Its been said that there are two kinds of writers: "Plotters" and "Pantsers". Plotters plan, outline, and more while Pantsers jump in by the seat of their pants and then go back and fill in the gaps.

I'm a Pantser. Something, usually a scene, gets stuck in my head and I leap in allowing the characters to "drive" for a while. After starting a few dozen stories this way I began to be able to tell when the characters needed to be reigned in a bit and at that point I'll stop and start making decisions about where I want the story to go, what I want to accomplish, and what might have gone on before.

If you want to call that outlining, so be it. Pantser pros: it's fun, you get immediate gratification (of sorts), you get to live as the character (at least for a while). Pantser cons: its risky, you can write your self into a corner, you can end up with fragments "glued" together rather than a story.

I'm not sure which is best, but I am sure that Pantsers must perform some kind of Plotting at some point...

Kevin_H said...

I create in a similar way as Caine. It usually starts with a single idea in my head and I ask myself ''What if...'' numerous times. Once I start writing I have a loose outline in my head but it can change somewhat during the process. Sometimes a new idea will arise or an old one will be deleted. I usually know how it'll end but the overall plot isn't written in stone. Like Caine said you can write yourself into a corner this way, but I find it overall to be less of a constraint then doing an outline/script.

Although I have either written a script or work off of one while doing comics but again neither has been an absolute. There's always some leeway there. Sometimes there are scenes in a script that really don't need to be there in a panel or page to tell the story. Minor things like showing the opening of a door or etc.

Some structure is good, but over doing it with outlines and such kills the creativity and fun factor for me.

Pierre Villeneuve said...

I was about to go into some sort of elaborate explaination of how I proceed.... but realised that it would be much better to keep that for a future blog. ;)


Jovial1 said...

I guess in contrast, I'm more of a plotter.

I tend to think about the story in a high-level sense first. Of course, this might just be a result of the way Jim had me pitch my first story to him. ;)

I start with a single line pitch, and begin breaking it down into a three act story and identifying the major beats. At this point I've got an outline with phrases marking the beats. I start breaking down each act and then each page and settle into the story. Now, that initial pitch might come from an image in my head, or a theme I want to play with, but I tend to try to 'plan' my stories more.

That said, once I'm 'in' my story at street-level, I try to remember that the high level stuff I decided might not be the best way to go. I try to 'listen' to the characters to see if there's a better way to do something, or if I have them doing something they wouldn't do. While I'm writing my page breakdowns, I try to include as much information about the scene as I can, and if I think I've got any dialog that I'm really fond of, I'll write that down as well.

But I tend to save dialog for last. It's probably the most intimidating step for me. And it's continually evolving. I'll look at a line over severral days and change it repeatedly.

When I'm finally done with a story, I've got multiple documents. Some are just 'notepads' where I've jotted freeform notes or stream of consciousness rambles that inspired me. Others are rough outlines, or full-on versions of scripts. (I never delete anything. I save new versions of scripts if I decide to re-write a scene.)


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