Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Photographs and a Few More Notes on Plot

Some Photographs From My New Canon Camera
It's been cold in Richmond over the past few weeks, so I decided to stay indoors and get my apartment in order, so as not to live with piles of teetering books or old water bottles. The pictures below evidence my hard work and the weather.

The Further Exploration of Plot
Just the other day I picked up a new Moleskinne notebook with the intent of writing my ideas for my steampunk-fantasy series. Something about the cream colored paper, the oilskin cover and that silly elastic band help my ideas pour out in a flood. So far, I've added several races - gryphon riders, centaurs, forest folk and a maybe a few witches styled after Greek goddesses. There may be a sort of hydrogen bomb or weapon of mass destruction, as well as a fleet of zeppelins. The plot is developing nicely, so I wanted to touch on a few ideas on this subject again. In the last post about plot, I wrote that I believe plot should entertain the audience, grow organically from causal relationships, and funel into a final confrontation of some sort.

Plot should be based on relationships, not just on events. The decisions characters make should trigger other characters to make decisions , creating conflict. In the basic love story, boy meets girl and makes a decision to do something about it. Conflict is created and decisions are made based on the boy's desire to start a relationship. This may seem excessively simple, but with multiple characters and the author's desire for certain scenes, this could be fairly complicated.

For example, I've got a string of scenes I would like to write, but right now I'm focused on how to get my characters motivated to arrive at that point. If these scenes are forced, it will be obvious to the readers that the author has done a hack job of bringing her that you'v done a hack job of bringing your story together. If you want a gunbattle or a brawl, there should be sufficient motivation for such a thing. Most people are never involved in something so extreme, so there should be a good and believable reason that it's happening in your story. That's about all for today, but let me know what you think.

Holding the Line.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Fear This Book: An Odd Discussion of Fear and Art

Today I finished reading Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils and Rewards of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland. Let's just start off by saying that this book is not a How-To manual. The writers discuss how to art-make and all that comes with that hyphenation, but the book is a shallow dip into such subjects. While giving the reader a healthy dose of how artists and their issues, the writers do not give artists a way of working out such issues.

I know the reviews on Amazon rave about this book, but I was not moved, consoled or even angered by this book. The writers offer pithy advice that in some sense may be useful. But on the whole the book is flat and I feel, more useful as a justification for artists who are having a hard time. Others may disagree and argue that the book was useful for them, or that I'm not really an artist because I wasn't moved by the writer's advice or regaling tales of how the art/publication world works. Either way, I might recommend this as a starting point for this conversation, but I definitely would not recommend it as any sort of authority on the subject.

I enjoy a discussion on theory and craft, as well as the next writer-painter-illustrator-craftsman, but after reading the same ideas repeated again and again, I began to doubt the validity of the whole work. When I picked up this book I expected slight suggestions with the authors offering encouragement. Instead, I got a book of platitudes and observations easily deduced from an artistic life, while also dealing with paranthetical insertions from the authors or badly designed boxes full of italicized maybe-funny maybe-clever advice. But then again, maybe I'm just not enough of an artist to get this book.

Holding the Line.