Saturday, February 26, 2011

Continuity and All That

I've discussed what I call 'Star Trek syndrome' before. (February 1, 2010) That's where a writer starts out with a nifty, plausible-seeming idea and starts adding detail. Then, after a few stories, discovers that the details won't fit together.

Or readers may discover the inconsistencies.

It's called "continuity," but I think 'Star Trek syndrome' sounds cooler.

A related issue is picking the wrong narrator. Or a narrator who can't do what the writer wants, in terms of telling the story.

That happened to me, with the Loonfoot Falls Chronicle-Gazette blog. It turned out to be a good way to give me practice at writing short, (relatively) tightly-worded posts: and provided me with quite a bit of background for Loonfoot Falls, a small town in central Minnesota.

Then, last year I realized that the blog, which was mostly 250-word columns in the fictional small town's newspaper, couldn't tell some of the stories I wanted it to.

That wasn't the only reason I've taken a sabbatical from that blog, but it was a major one.

A human-interest column like that, published in a small-town weekly, has limitations. Don't expect a conventional rant about repressive small-town parochialism: it's just a cultural thing. Small-town weeklies, in my experience, tend to focus on the positive aspects of personal stories. When they're not reporting 'regular' news: which is about the same in small towns as it is anywhere else.

There's a reason why I'm not at all likely to read a celebrity exposé in Sauk Centre, Minnesota's, newspaper. It's not that we lack folks like, say, Charlie Sheen or Paris Hilton. There was a fellow who got in the paper after he ran buck-naked down Main Street. The difference is that the paper treated the incident as another bit of local news, and left it at that. No op-ed about the unfairness of anti-streaker laws, the lack of a naked-pedestrian lane on local streets, or a wig-picker's explanation for why it isn't the fellow's fault. Or wasn't: the 'victim of society' fad seems to have faded.

And I've gotten off-topic.

The point is that I need to find a suitable viewpoint character for more Loonfoot Falls accounts. Or maybe take the one I have, and change the venue.

Somewhat-related posts:

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Making Comics: Status Report, February 24, 2011

I posted a sort of status report on Tuesday, and this far-from-remarkable picture of a door:

There's an explanation for that, which is what this post is about. Mostly.

I've wanted to create comics for a long time, and tried once or twice. With unsatisfactory results. This winter I gave it another try: and posted a seven-panel sequence in another blog: "Narcissus-X: TRAPPED!," Narcissus-X (February 11, 2011)). I've mentioned Narcissus-X before: a sort of alter-ego and a terribly angsty, self-important artist.

The point is that this time, I told a story in seven panels of pictures and text: with satisfactory results. In my opinion, anyway.

So now I'm starting work on a graphic novel that will rival Shakespeare's King Lear and Adam's Restaurant at the End of the Universe?


But I am doing makee-learnee with several 3D models, sort of an apprenticeship: except without a master to tell me how to get things done. Also, happily, without deadlines.

It's not as frivolous an approach as it may seem. I've found that starting work on a project and learning skills as I go is more effective, and a lot less frustrating, than trying to slog through most tutorials.

In this case, I've started with a set of already-completed models, created by some folks who know what they're doing. Their screen names are Predatron, maclean, and Stonemason. Here's what I had at the beginning of this week:

Most of the urban scene is Predatron's City Streets: what's on this side is a collection of models by maclean.

So far, the only work I'd done was to stack some of mclean's models to make interiors for an office/commercial building whose exterior I'll be working on.

Across the street, one of Predatron's buildings already has a (very simple) interior:

I could leave that building as-is, but decided to play with the interior, instead. I'm pretty sure that the building's interior is intended to give the impression of a complete, occupied building when viewed from the street. The model as it stands gets that job done quite well.

It wasn't until I started measuring the interior that I discovered some oddities in scale. The walls between rooms seemed unreasonably thick for a building of that sort. The ceiling height, about 10 feet, was okay, as was the substantial space between ceilings and the next floor. We've gotten used to seven- and eight-foot ceilings: but buildings weren't always built that way. The doors seem normal - but they're about seven feet tall, in this scale. That's really tall and wide.

So I hid the existing interior for the building and started putting up walls for a small apartment at the front of the building:

The door is the right size - but wasn't satisfactory for what I have in mind. Which is why I made that green one. Eventually, I'll have a plausible-looking small apartment - at least when viewed from some angels.

But that won't be all that interesting, without characters and some sort of story to go with it.

Right now, I'm thinking of doing something like the slice-of-life Gasoline Alley accounts - but have no idea where I'll wind up.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What I've Done, What I Plan to Do

I haven't posted anything here since November 12, 2010. For several reasons.

I caught what's probably the flu around that time: and haven't really shaken it since. I'm pushing age 60, and next year I am not missing the flu shot.

That's also when I started having problems doing creative work. Dealing with some sort of an influenza-like infection didn't help any, but there may be more going on than that.1

This post is a sort of status report, telling what's changed in my plans.

Apathetic Lemming of the Month

The Lemming's blog is fun to research and write for: but I've decided that it's time to cut back a little. (Apathetic Lemming of the North (February 21, 2011))

Loonfoot Falls, Minnesota

From May 23, 2008 to November 5, 2010, I'd been cranking out a 250-word post each week in Loonfoot Falls Chronicle-Gazette, yet another blog. The idea was to develop the setting, a small town in Minnesota. Quite fictional: although it's at least as accurate a picture as Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon. I actually live in a small town in central Minnesota: and that's almost another topic.

Then, in mid-November of last year, I realized that I was having a hard time creating new posts - and not all that many folks had been visiting that particular blog. Since I had a modestly rich set of characters, settings, and situations established: I haven't written anything for that blog since.

The odds are pretty good that I'll restart the Gazette column - and I'm getting to that.

Only So Many Hours in a Day

Some creative types work in a studio - either as a member of a team led by someone else, or as the chief 'idea' person. There's nothing wrong with that, in my opinion.

As I recall, the big creative names in Renaissance Italy, besides being talented artists, ran businesses. These days they'd be commercial artists, interior designers, and a plethora of other job titles. They didn't necessarily do all the work on every piece that had their name on it - any more than Walt Disney or George Lucas have been doing all the work in movies they've made.

Like I say, I have no problem with that. The idea, as I see it, is to get a movie, or a comic strip, or something else 'out the door,' and if it takes a team to do it well: it takes a team.

Which doesn't have all that much to do with what I'm doing.

I'm one person. I've gotten help, from time to time, from members of my family: but there isn't much that I write or display that I didn't make myself.

That's kind of nice for my ego - when the results come out well - but it puts very real limitations on just how much I can expect to get done. Which is why I've cut back on how much I write each day.

The World of Loonfoot Falls

As I wrote those posts about Loonfoot Falls, Minnesota, I found I was collecting material about the semi-fictional world the town was in. I made notes as I went along, even when the idea never made it into one of those 250-word posts.

There's a big difference between some nifty ideas, and a story or picture involving them that someone else might find interesting. Or, I hope, entertaining.

What I've started working on is playing with that 'extra' material from the Loonfoot Falls project, and seeing if I can make them into stories, or illustrations: or something.

Which is part of what I was working on today. Here's what I have to show for most of an afternoon's work on the world of Loonfoot Falls:

That's right: It's a door. An ordinary door that someone's apparently painted green. Or some color that's sort of green.

Not very impressive, by itself.

But, it's a start.

Not-entirely-unrelated posts:

1Something quite unpleasant happened around Christmas time, back in '60s, and I the way I get frantic around that time of year may be more than the usual cultural craziness. I discussed that in another blog. (A Catholic Citizen in America (January 28, 2011))

Privacy Policy

Nothing spooky here.

These days it's important to have a "privacy policy" available: so here's mine.

I do not collect information on individuals visiting this blog. If you leave a comment, I'll read what you wrote: but I don't keep a record of comments, apart from what Blogger displays. (In other words, the only record of what you write or who you are will be what people see at the bottom of the post.)

I do collect information about how many hits this blog gets, where they come from, and some technical information. I use the WebSTAT service for this purpose - and all that shows is which ISP you use, and where it's located.

You can stop most of Webstat's data gathering by disabling cookies in your browser. I don't know why you would, but some folks do.

I'm also an AdSense affiliate, so Google collects information on what I've written in each post: but that's mostly my problem.

I'm also considering starting an affiliate relationship with DAZ Productions. You should be able to keep DAZ and Commission Junction, their provider of affiliate services, from collecting information by - again - disabling cookies in your browser.

And you can keep DAZ Productions from finding out anything about you, by not buying any of their products.

Again, I don't know why you would: but some folks do.

Or, rather, don't.