Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Milestone Completed!

I wrapped up the reconciliation of my notes and the outline! A major milestone in the process, but really just means I can begin for real. The Scrivener file still needs a ton of cleaning, but I will do that as I write otherwise I'd be weighed down with editing for the foreseeable future. I have what I need to mover forward and that's good enough.

I'm going to turn my chair 180 degrees and the action can finally switch to the drawing board for a change. I have a logotype I want to work up. For whatever reason, I like to start a project with a working logo. Don't ask why, it's just one of my odd quirks. Hope to have something to show by  tomorrow's post.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Presents to Myself

I really hoped to get through to the end of the notes today, but there is just too much to cover and reconcile yet.

Another day of digging through old notes and material, shaping them into a coherent whole has been an amazing process. It's remarkable how much material I've generated over the years. Because of the separation in time, the dislocation of various notes (Google docs, loose post-its, Scrivener files, and random thoughts as I go) and the somewhat stop and start approach I've taken to this project, I've found it fascinating to see how some material supports other parts created at very different stages, how crazy deep I dug and how many cool little details I jotted down here and there. Like finding buried treasure with every shovelful.

Appropriate to the day, it's like finding a roomful of presents I've left for myself. I've spent my morning opening them with deep gratitude to myself for having taken the time to do the work, to save the inspiration for this moment.

I doubt that this protracted, even stalled method of story development is the recommended or "best" practice, but in this case it's been like marinating a stew or aging a wine. I've found deep value in letting this story accumulate and self-select rather than to have tried to sit down and force it to life. It's organically grown- deeply rooted in my psyche, fed with time and imagination and watered from the common well of myth. The first shoots of green are promising what could grow to be a mighty tree. I'm excited.

I will take tomorrow off, so to those who celebrate it, a Merry Christmas. To all, a joyous celebration of the return of the light, the turn of the season and renewal of your spirit and the bonds of family and friends.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Hack and Slash

Sorry about the blurring -just not at a place where I'm ready to share the raw notes!
Spent today's 2 hrs (maybe more) reconciling the written outline with my Scrivener notes and my handwritten notebook. For the most part it was easy and interestingly enough, some major ideas I though I developed in the last few days had existed previously in some corner of my notes. I can't say if I was subconciously recovering them, or if I came to the same point by separate paths. In any case, the fact that I came to the same conclusion twice suggests that I was on to something.

I also found it interesting in reviewing my notes that sometime around last March, I got really lost in self-doubt. My God, the sudden gutting and gyrations I went though is astounding. I literally spent part of my day today writing comforting notes to my former self telling him, it was OK and that these "problems" were in hand. What I found was that I lost the core of the story, but now it's back and feeling solid. I guess I had to have a moment (or month) of testing my own faith to prove that I had been on the correct path to begin with.

I still have a lot of notes to go through, but I need to get on with my day. It's been pretty tedious getting through it all, but over time, as I ruminated on the story, and did research, read influential source material, etc, I had a lot of inspiration coming from many angles and frankly they can't all live together and so need to be reconciled.

I have to say, the whole process has been really energizing. The discovery of this world, though long in the making seems very fresh and new to me. I'm actually surprised how much I like what I've put together: the characters, the setting , the plot, the locations. This is a story I would read.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The End

Well, I ran out of room, so that must mean I've reached the end of the outline. Actually, I had to turn the corner and put a few on the side of the bookshelf.

So this marks the first round of outlining. The next step is to review a slew of lose notes I have and see what stays, what goes and what gets added.

I found that even though I was mostly just transcibing the Scrivener project to Post-Its, that I did a fair amount of "writing" while I did it. I came up with a number of sub-plots, fleshed out the stories of at least 4 of the main players, and resolved a fair number of plot problems. Hopefully, my pass over the newer notes won't hose much of this as I'm pretty happy with what I've gotten. It's been really gratifying going through the narrative chronologically in a short period of time and getting an idea of the flow and scope.

I have to admit I spent a few paranoid hours looking into potential "assignment of rights" problems. Though this isn't software, a game or anything connected to my job, nor do I ever work on it on company equipment or time, but the boilerplate in my contract could be read to say anything I ever make, do, or conceive of  at work or on my own time belongs to my employer. I started this thing years before I started with them (though the content has changed over time), and I doubt they would have interest in glomming my comic book, but you never know. IP could be seen as IP. So I have this horrible Catch-22 situation that suggests I'd have to quit my job to produce this thing and still keep the rights to it, which isn't in anybody's best interest. It would break my heart to put this aside, and it would break my wallet to put my job aside, so for now I'll soldier on and hope for the best. I've never heard of an employer taking an employees personal work in that way, though I realize that counting on that is naive.

So on to the next editing pass.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Day 3: Out of Green Post-Its

Yay! I've kept this up for 3 days (well 2 of actual writing work). Got through the end of Book (Act) II. Didn't make as much progress as I thought, but I underestimated just how much material I had in hand for this section. It's both the section with the most meat and the most problems. Since it's inception, I had the ending and to some extent the beginning pretty clear in my mind (though I swear I have written a dozen variants on the opening chapter, all suitable, all compelling, but finally settled on one). The middle section had a solid through line, but how it was traveled has varied a lot and I needed to filter out a lot of potential ideas and get the singular plot worked out. Beyond that, it has the most need for exposition and working how what needed to be presented, what could be implied, and what was just backstory I needed to know for myself  but needn't be explicitly revealed.

This section also has a lot more detail I wanted to capture as I'd written so much into this area already, so the ratio of post-it's to content is off compared to the previous act. That long strip in the third column adds up to maybe 2 chapters at best -previous notes are about 1 chapter per post-it.

As you can see, Act II occupies twice the board space and has a crap-ton of notes (green, blue and red). Ran out of Green Post-Its today, so I can't get much further until I run out late rand get more ;). All in all, I'm feeling pretty good about the process. I've been working from my Scrivener notes from about 6 months ago. I've made a good deal of changes as I go, but it's SO much easier taking this as one big text rather than picking at parts. Still, once I have this part all up on the board, I need to go through the last 6 months of notes I've written and see what I want to change, rearrange, add, etc. It's been hard to keep all this in my head, so who knows how much of this will make to the final.

I should keep in mind that if this actually gets finished, that there is plenty of room for future tales with these characters and the material that doesn't make the cut might find a home elsewhere. Today alone I uncovered what would make at least a few one-offs and the roots of 2-3 other adventures.

I realize suddenly that I haven't revealed a lick of what this is about. That should be coming out soonish. Just not ready to talk about it yet other than in the broad sense that this is my idea of an Epic Fairy Tale.

Now time for lunch and then off to get green post-its.

See you tomorrow.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Plotting and Planning a Wonderous Story

Post-it Key: yellow=plot, green=notes, red=problems, blue=to-do tasks

I've made a commitment to myself to work 2 hrs a day on the "The Project". Although I really wanted to keep working today, I held myself to it. My reasoning is that I figure that's about what I can afford to commit to when I have work and a regular life going. I need to both convince myself that I can get a lot done in 2 hrs (I can) and I want to build the habit by keeping a regular, consistent schedule at first.

So today's accomplishment was the rough outlining of what I'm calling Book I and about what I figure is 1/3 of  Book II. Looking at the pic of the board, I think I'm going to run out of room for Book II faster than I like -need to write smaller I guess!

I've concluded that this method will work really well for capturing the big picture and let me see where it's going and what needs filling in. I think now though that Scrivener will be very useful when I get to the "Chapter" (or in my mind "Issue") level of outlining. It's all a big learning process, I've never tackled something this large before.

At this rate, I think I could be finished with the broad-stroke outlining in a day or two. Then will come the rather laborious effort to run through the last 6 months or more of notes I've been taking and seeing what still makes sense or what changes need to be made to the outline. That effort could take some time if only because there are so many ideas to filter and reconcile.

After this planning phase, I have plans to outline the first "Issue" and begin visual design in earnest -that should be the fun part, though I have to say, I enjoy fitting all the story bits together and weaving plot.

As a side note, I took  hearing this song come up in my random mix as I worked on this as a good omen:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Well, I'm Back.....

So I'm back! Did you miss me? Most of my life has been on Facebook of late and I haven't been doing much on the side. My day job has kept me pretty busy, add to that any number of side jobs, and I haven't had much to share.

That said, my oft spoken of Epic is ready to go into production and I thought I'd change the focus of this blog once again to a more focused look at the project. At some point, I may break off a separate blog to cover just that content.

Today is the first day of my Christmas break, and I've decided to make a concerted effort to get the pre-production work on my Epic out of the way, or at least started. I've been developing this thing for at least the last 4 years on and off. It's seen a lot of changes and I've collected enough characters, plots and scenes to write half a dozen tales. Some time mid-year I ported it all over to Scrivener to try to get a handle on it. My intention for today was to get back into it and start shaping the project file into a usable state, but alas, I've found that as powerful as Scrivener is, it may not be the best day-to-day tool for me.

I'm a visual person, and though you can see a project in both pin-board, text and outline form, and move elements, cross-reference notes, etc., Scrivener just doesn't let me see the big picture the way I need right now. For that reason, and others (not the least of which is getting a fresh start), I decided to go to a real-world pin-board and post-it method of working out my story. I figure that having a physical presence in my studio will make it easier to keep it fresh and active as well. Hidden away in computer file means I only take it out to work on sporadically. I'm hoping that having the Story on a wall, in plain sight will help both with clarity and spontaneous changes and updates. We'll see.

So instead of writing this morning, I moved my big pin board from one wall to another, put a few more holes in the wall and got my studio rearranged to accommodate it all. I find that often I need to get the setting right before getting started on a new endeavor.

I hope to make a regular habit of blogging my progress and start building some awareness of the project as well as make some promises I feel compelled to keep.

Watch this space!