Why am I just splatting out this thing I found on Facebook? Emma Coates was a storyboard artist for Pixar. The rules seem to be sound, and I want to remember them. Posting them here is handy for me if nothing else. If you’re a writer, you might find them useful too.
- You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
- You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.
- Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
- Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
- Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
- What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
- Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
- Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
- When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
- Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
- Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
- Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
- Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
- Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.
- If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
- What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
- No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.
- You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
- Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
- Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?
- You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?
- What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.
90 second speed paint, Corel Painter, Cintiq
Here’s the same drawing with a little color. I just used the black and white and selectively tweaked the color layers. Fun.
You would think that being able to do something like this in 90 seconds flat would be worth some serious money to somebody. Especially combined with all my other skills. I’m hoping it is, anyway. I’m testing the waters to see what I can really do now that I’ve been steeped in motion picture studio culture for almost ten years.
Yes, I did paint this. Yes, it took 90 seconds. And I was talking to somebody about something completely unrelated who was standing in the room while I did it.
Last week I was contacted by my friend David Clarke at Off Shoot Comics about drawing a comic book. As in, he wanted me to draw the book. I have to admit, it’s been sort of a lifelong dream of mine to do one, but at the same time I’m daunted by the commitment and work it’s going to take to get a book out the door. My radio station, Krypton Radio, has gotten very popular, very fast, and it’s taking an amazing amount of my time. You know how these things go, you work hard to make a success of something, and then when it happens it’s like a snowball rolling downhill and you suddenly find yourself trying to outrun this huge thing barreling down at you at a hundred miles an hour, and it’s a lot bigger than you are, and you wonder what in the hell happened overnight that made it into such a monster? I mean, good problem to have, right?
And then more good fortune follows, and people start coming toward you because they perceive that that’s where they need to be, because today the light seems to be coming from your direction, and you suddenly have more than you can actually handle well on the table in front of you and you have to start being very cagey about what you do and how you go about it.
If you’ve been reading my site, you know I’m an artist. Yet, I haven’t been working on any art projects in a long time. So despite my obvious lack of free time already, I decided to finally do something. I’m waiting on character notes and a plot outline from David on the new book. I’ll make the time. This will be fun – a lot of work, but I feel it will validate me as an artist. Why learn it all if you’re not going to use it?
In the back of my mind is a tiny voice that’s saying to itself, “So this is what success feels like. It’s nothing like what I thought it would be.” And then, “Oh my GOD, what did I just sign??”
Watch this space.
- 30 -
It’s time to rediscover who you are. It’s the secret to life, the universe, and everything, and I can tell you now the answer is not 42.. – Gene Turnbow . . . → Read More: The Secret to Being Happy In Life
I’ve been trying to raise the quality bar of my illustrations lately. No, this image is not unique, it’s from the cover of a Supergirl comic I saw in a store today. However, I did pencil and ink this myself.
Sometimes the origins of technical terminalogy can be surprising. This article describes my experience with an aquarium, a squirrel, and a piece of glass. . . . → Read More: The Squirrel’s Up on Glass in the Aquarium
Why does Yogi Bear have a collar – but no shirt? The answer will surprise you. . . . → Read More: Why Does Yogi Bear Have a Tie and Collar?
Team iLuminate – a high tech dance performance, just jaw dropping. . . . → Read More: Team iLuminate
All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity’ but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible. . . . → Read More: Words Have Power
I recently got an email from one of my coworkers who wanted to know what she should be looking for in a good used guitar in the $100 range. I thought I’d share the answers with you, because people get asked this a lot and it’s one of the most common questions a new guitar player asks:
I’m going to start looking for a full-sized guitar, for myself. In looking at used guitars, what brands do you think are better than others? Or, does it matter? I’m going to try and find something that is around $100.
At the $100 price point, your best measure of the quality of a guitar is you. You can often get a little better quality if you get a used one rather than a new one, but here are things to look for:
Does it feel right in your hands? Everybody’s hands are different, so get a guitar that feels good in yours. Does it sound right (even playing all the way up the neck)? Does it have a cutaway so you can reach the high notes (if that’s important to you)? Are the machine heads (the tuning heads) firm or do they slip or rattle? (“What the – where’s that buzz coming from??”) How high are the frets compared to the fretboard? Taller frets make a guitar harder to play than slimmer frets and will require more energy to get a clean sound out of them. The difference can be small, and you can often only see this by comparing one guitar to another. Does it speak well? Some guitars are quieter or sound tinny compared to others, some guitars are brighter, or have a stronger bass content in their voices. Remember that there are things you can do to make a guitar’s voice change depending on how you play it, but that its fundamental character will remain fairly constant. Does it have a truss rod in the neck so that the bow in the neck can be adjusted? Surprisingly, some at this price point don’t. A guitar with a truss rod in the neck will have a little hex bolt head inside the sound hole just under the end of the fretboard.
After that it’s more like picking out a comfortable pair of shoes than anything else. Listen to the guitar’s voice, and find one that sounds like an old friend. That’s the guitar you’re going to get the most out of.
Brands to look for are Taylor, Martin, Ovation, Yamaha, Fender – but there are dozens more really excellent brands, and again, at this price point the well known name brands are as likely to be lemons as any other guitar.
If I get a nylon string guitar, will it have the same great twang as your guitar? Or, will it always be softer?
No, it will always be softer. Nylon is uncommon, most guitars are steel string. They . . . → Read More: What to Look For In a Good Cheap Guitar