Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sense of Accomplishment

After three months of fits and starts, amidst much agonizing and backtracking, I have now completed the worst draft of a story I have ever written. I'm so proud. Normally I would have left the half-finished draft to be abandoned on a mountainside and eaten by wolves or thrown it into a sewer once I had seen how hideously deformed a creature I had wrought, but no, this time, in the spirit of experimenting with my writing process, I persisted. And lo, the story is indeed a piteous thing to behold. But it's done! Done! Even though I had to sacrifice a cat to do it. (No, not Pixel. Don't worry. A purely fictional cat.)

I don't know if I even want to call it a "first draft" at this point. Maybe a "pre-draft."

Now that I have seen how execrably I can write, it's time to put my surgical skills to the test and see if I can somehow slice, transplant, and suture this baby into some semblance of life.

Famous last words: At least I can't make it any worse.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Isn't she cute!

My niece Ayeka came to visit her grandpa. She is adorable. Looks just like me at that age. ;-)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Buttercup, Babies, and Broadvoice

Haven't had much time lately to post any updates because...

1.) I bought a car. It's my very first car. I got tired of having to commute on the buses up to my dad's house everyday; it was taking over an hour each way, often close to an hour and a half, which meant three hours out of my day spent commuting. And it's only ten miles away. So I decided that in the interest of having time to do other things, like write, I should conquer my phobia about driving and get a car. I feel like I've crossed over to the Dark Side, especially with gas prices being over $3/gallon now.

I got a 2004 Chevy Aveo, as it was the smallest car I could find. I named her Buttercup. She looks something like this:

2.) I've had visitors. Brad came down for two weeks to recuperate from working on Blades of Glory. He went back up to Vancouver on Thursday. And my brother, sister-in-law, and niece were also staying with us for a few days, so it was a bit crowded.

3.) I've been wasting a lot of time researching WiFi VoIP phones. In an effort to reduce our cellphone bills, we were looking into getting Brad a WiFi phone to use in Vancouver so he can call me and his family in WV. We've had Vonage for awhile now at home, but he wanted a WiFi phone he could use both at work and at his apartment. Since Vonage customer support was less than helpful in figuring out how to make this all work with our existing account and Brad didn't want to get a phone that was locked to Vonage anyway, he signed up for Broadvoice instead and got a dual cell/VoIP phone through eBay. Unfortunately, his phone doesn't actually work the way we need it to for reasons too technical for me to even describe. I had to order him a new phone today. Once that arrives, I will set it up here and mail it to him. Trying to wrap my head around all these different protocols has made my brain hurt. I hope Broadvoice works decently after all this.

4.) I've been doing lots of writing. Not. I will attempt to remedy that this weekend, now that I've caught up on all the episodes of Heroes. Brad made me watch the first episode last weekend, which meant that I spent a few hours every day for the past week watching the rest. I'm out of episodes now, so theoretically I can get some work done.

But I need a nap first.

Monday, March 05, 2007


I bought a couple of books the other day to explore my nascent interest in comics scriptwriting. I don't know how it happened, but several months ago I decided that I'd like to write some graphic novels, despite the fact that I'd never really had any interest in reading them. Go figure. So, I'm working my way into reading The Sandman series and scouting around for other comics that might catch my interest, and I thought it might be useful to get some books on writing comics to see how it's done.

The first book I got, Alan Moore's Writing for Comics, is an extended essay he wrote several years ago, near the beginning of his career, together with an afterword written after he'd become a jaded professional. The second book, Writers on Comics Scriptwriting, is a collection of interviews with writers like Neil Gaiman, Frank Miller, Grant Morrison, etc. I finished the Moore book; it's really short, but gives a good overview of the process he goes through to come up with a script. I'm slowly picking my way through the interviews, reading about just one or two writers every couple of days.

Of course, when writing any kind of story, a lot of the issues are the same--developing characters, tying together themes and plots, creating settings, and all that--so the basics of good storytelling don't change, and neither of the books have anything new to say about that. What I find interesting about writing for comics is the increased emphasis on story structure. Comics writers usually have a set number of pages in which to tell their story, so there's a lot of thought that goes into how the story is paced and structured to fit within that space. Structure's also important because you aren't able to drown the reader in a river of words. Because the writer needs to economise on the number of words he uses to tell the story, and even the number of images used to convey the story, he needs to be more aware of what the key images are and how to structure them into a coherent, cohesive whole. I also like how writing comics forces you to think more visually, which is a skill that I hope to carry over to my regular fiction writing.

I'm going to try drafting some of my current stories in script-style to see if that can get my brain thinking about them in ways that will enable me to fill in the holes. I know it's easier for me to write a screenplay than to draft a regular story. We'll see how this goes.