Monday, March 23, 2009

Lo, There Shall Come... A Writer!

Good evening. *waves* My name is Michael, and I'm the Sequential Salon's token writer, aka the one who *didn't* go to SVA. I've been a part of the group for about a year now, thanks to my hetero-lifemate Jeff. In that time, I hope I've given some good story advice, and I hope I can continue doing so here.

For those of you who care about my credentials, you poor credulous saps, they are as follows: I graduated from Emory University with a degree in Creative Writing, and that and a Class C license qualifies me to drive a car. I've worked as an editor on a short-lived magazine called Citizen Culture, the website for which is still active for reasons I cannot fathom. I'm a graduate of NYU's comics writing course as taught by former Marvel staffer Danny Fingeroth, and have two professional published stories to my name (one fiction, one non-fiction). And I'm a Scorpio who detests long walks on the beach and would rather stay at the hotel, get hammered, and play Smash Bros.

So, what the hell am I doing here? Well, as I have occasionally done in the past on my own blog, Tales To Mildly Astonish, I hope to share some insights about writing that I've gathered from various sources, and even some original ideas from time to time. I also hope to explain why and how a writer is a lot more than the guy who fills in the dialogue, in comics and elsewhere. And maybe, just maybe, I'll show you the development of a project from original germ of an idea to all-out final execution.

For now, though, I'll start out with what I think are some valuable writer's resources:

The Elements of Style. 91 years after its original publication, E.B. White and William Strunk's guide to the rules of writing American English is still relevant, still vibrant, and still chock-full of useful, immediate nuts-and-bolts information on how to write without sounding like the complete dumbass you probably are. (It certainly works for me.) It is the 128-piece adjustable wrench set of the writer's toolbox. Read it, know it, memorize it, love it. There WILL be a test later. (And yes, that's the Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little guy.)

On Writing
. Stephen King is the Bo Jackson of modern fiction: He knows. This book is crammed with advice on how to write and how to be a writer (they're two different things), gathered from his more than fifty years of experience with the craft. You'll learn about revision, discipline, developing mindful habits, and the reasons why and why not to write, all with the same style and wit that characterize his fiction. Probably the most fun book on writing I've ever read, and one of the most helpful.

The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics
. Denny O'Neill took the notes for the course he used to teach to new DC staffers (and currently teaches at various locations around New York City), and turned it into the definitive book on writing for the Big Two. Story structure, visualization, plotting, it's all here. It's most helpful for writing a monthly series, of course, but a large part of the advice can be adapted to any writing situation. Plus, it's got purty pictures.

Panel One
& Panel Two. Nat Gertler edits two collections of real scripts and plots from real comics by real comics creators, including Kurt Busiek, Neil Gaiman, Peter David, Scott McCloud, Greg Rucka, Jeff Smith... oh, hell, just go out and get it already!

That's enough out of me for now. You have your mission, troops; get on with it.

No comments: