Links used above:
I’m really excited to have Ellie Ann on my blog today! She was wonderful enough to answer a few questions about comic writing! So, I won’t bore you with all of my nonsense. Right to the awesomeness of Ellie!
1) First off, comic writing? AWESOME. You’re like Stan Lee or something! How does one get into the comic writing business?
By loving and supporting comics. It was my enthusiastic support of Sundown: White Birch that got me noticed by a producer at Motionworks Entertainment, and then he checked out my work and liked it enough to give me a contract for one of their series. If you love something enough, it has a way of opening itself up to you.
2) What comic project are you currently working on? What inspired it?
I’m THIS close (shows a hair length) away from being able to talk about my current project, but it’s still under the blanket for now.
3) You’re also a published novelist (Congratulations on the release of “The Silver Sickle”!), so how does writing a novel compare/differ to writing a comic?
Novel writing is harder because you can’t rely on a team to help you out. With comic writing (especially enhanced comics), in a scary scene I can rely on the illustrator to put the reader on edge, and on the music to creep the viewer out. But I’m all on my own during scary scenes in my novels.
So many people have asked me (people unaccustomed to comics) if I am given a bunch of illustrations and have to come up with their speech bubbles. Ha! It’s the other way around. I create content that the illustrators use to make the world come alive visually. But it’s up to me to make engaging characters, gripping plot, compelling mystery, and all that jazz. So, creating a story for a comic is just as hard as creating worlds for a novel—I just don’t have to spend as much energy describing it perfectly.
4) When I think of comics, I think that an essential component to them is that they must constantly show all the time. There’s no room for telling, which I know is problematic for a lot of writers. Is this true? If so, is it challenging for you?
Great point! In comics, what you see is what you get. I have to try to attach the viewer to the character (or repel them) in one page, sometimes without any words. It’s absolutely challenging, and takes a lot of thought. Like, how do you show the reader that the main character is waiting for someone without using any words? There are lots of ways, but one of them would be the main character’s eyes are always straying towards the window, or perking up when people pass by. Also, I’ve had to become a lot more eloquent describing character’s emotions—besides just saying they’re angry or content or impatient. I love this about comics, and it’s made me such a better writer because of it.
I suggest any writer who has trouble with over telling things to start writing a comic or a screenplay. It’ll surprise you how much you can know about a character without telling anything about them, only showing who they are through dialogue, actions, and how people treat them.
5) Final question: I imagine there are a lot of steps in getting a comic finalized and published. How many steps are there from the conception of the idea to publication?
It totally depends on the comic. There are way more steps in Motionworks than in most other comics because it’s animated. The steps I’m involved with are:
– Writing plot and character sheets. I let myself go wild during this phase, and write down anything I find exciting. If this is accepted, move on to:
– Writing the plot into scenes and describing the setting. If accepted, work on:
– Adding dialogue.
– Then comes all the editing…when the red pen comes out. This is when we have to put it into panels, around 50. So usually about 1/3 of my material is cut, 1/3 is combined/changed, and 1/3 is accepted.
– Enjoy the finished product!
I told you it was good stuff! Now, click on these links and check out Ellie’s other awesome stuff!
1. in 25 words or less, tell us the basic idea of Tri System’s Edge: Humble Beginnings.
Humble Beginnings is my unique twist on the vampire / reluctant hero genre where interplanetary travel is commonplace and monsters are real.
2. What inspired this work?
It’s hard to pinpoint what really inspired me. I just had a random thought several years ago and started to write. Next thing I knew, the first draft of chapter one was finished. It wasn’t until the end of 2012 that I started working on it again, and the book was only recently finished in April 2013 and as of this interview is currently undergoing editing.
3. What have you learned about the craft of writing, or about yourself as a writer since writing this?
Well, I’ve definitely learned that it’s a great feeling to complete a book, regardless of what comes after the fact! And having a professional editor to assist in the clean up phase, I’ve learned that I still have plenty to learn about how to write! It’s one thing to have a mind that can create, but learning how to tell the story in the best possible way does take time to master. But it’s an exciting process and I look forward to improving my craft in the years to come!
4. Are you a plotter, panster, or a combination of both? How to you prepare a story before starting the first draft?
I’m actually neither. I’ve always been able to sit down, think of a good opening line and start to write. What comes after the first line is really more of the story speaking as I write out the details. I’ve talked with other writers who, especially for a novel, need their outline. But that doesn’t work for me. My best writing seems to come when I just let the story live out its life while I write. And as a side note, this gives me the added benefit of seeing events unfold much like reading a book or watching a movie for the first time. I even recall one night of writing where I had to get up and yell at my computer for allowing a favorite character to be put in a life or death situation. I didn’t want the character to die and was nervous to continue writing that night, afraid the character wouldn’t make it! This doesn’t mean I won’t make necessary changes, but for the overall storyline, I work best when I let the story guide me.
5. Describe an average day of writing for you.
I sit at my computer, turn off all distractions, open up my story and just start typing until my fingers stop finding the words! Some days it’s 20 minutes or less, others, like one particular day that comes to mind, it’s 8-9 hours straight of typing away!
I’ve put writing off for a very long time, but since writing this book, I’ve found that writing is a wonderful release for my mind, allowing me to take a break from the day to day routine that our lives often become. It was an incredible experience to be able to lose myself in a world that I’m the author of! I highly recommend it for anyone in need of a break from life!
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Kristen Lamb is the author of the best-selling books We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer and is represented by Russel Galen of Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary, Inc. in NYC.
Kristen worked in international sales before transitioning into a career as an author, freelance editor and speaker. She takes her years of experience in sales & promotion and merges it with almost a decade as a writer to create a program designed to help authors construct a platform in the new paradigm of publishing. Kristen has guided writers of all levels, from unpublished green peas to NY Times best-selling big fish, how to use social media to create a solid platform and brand. Most importantly, Kristen helps authors of all levels connect to their READERS and then maintain a relationship that grows into a long-term fan base. (From her website, http://www.warriorwriters.wordpress.com)
Actually, it took 25 years to get back to what I knew I wanted to be. I tried the military, got a degree in Political Economy of the Mideast and North Africa, lived in Syria and decided I’d had enough of the Middle East. Then I tried sales, then got into law school. I kept trying to make myself “fit” in the normal world and it just didn’t work. My health started suffering terribly to the point I couldn’t work. I became so ill I couldn’t leave my couch, so I began writing on my laptop. I went back to basics…my love for writing. Now I am happy as ever and setting the world on fire with the Love Revolution.
Why social media?
I figure, the world will want thrillers in ten years, but the artist community needs me NOW. This can be the New Digital Renaissance with the right people saying the right things. I can only hope I am saying the right things. I feel I give writers (artists) hope. I don’t tell them they aren’t good enough and that they need to change. We are finally in a time where artists will be in increasing demand. They can make a GOOD living with the right education. THAT is why I work so hard.
You have your blog,http://www.warriorwriters.wordpress.com/, where you post tons of useful and helpful information for writers. Do you write for a different demographic as well? Fiction, historical fiction, etc.?
Pinterest. I LOVE Pinterest. I could lose HOURS…no, DAYS there. I think it is a really useful site to refill the creative reservoir. We can find images that help us create characters, settings or even–if you are me–lots of pictures of the French Riviera to keep you inspired to work those 60 hour weeks. It is so easy a gerbil could figure it out. Just see pretty things and “Pin It.” DONE.
Do you think this social media website is the easiest to market on? Why/why not?
I don’t like the term marketing. I feel we are in the business of connecting artists to their patrons. Patrons buy art or support it. It is about building a community of people who care about us, so they care about our product. Interruption marketing has a terrible ROI (return on investment) and it is seriously annoying.
But for building tribes and a core group of support? Twitter. I LOVE Twitter.Favorite movie/actor/actress. Go.
Hard choice between “Army of Darkness” and “The Holy Grail.” Again hard choice between Bruce Campbell and John Cleese, Amy Pohler. I am a total goofball.
You mentioned #MyWANA (We Are Not Alone) frequently, and it’s a fantastic idea! Writers helping other writers. Where did this idea come from?
Actually I LOVE helping writers. I love to encourage them and RT their blogs. Originally it was because I am kinda lazy and I wanted to herd them all in one spot so I could keep up with everyone. I’m following THOUSANDS of people. But then I realized that the best way to learn is by doing and watching. If we could herd new people quickly to a hashtag, then they could instantly make like-minded friends and have an instant community of support. They could also watch what others were doing and ask questions, so this would shorten the learning curve exponentially.
You can also see her interview on my blog here.
Carrie was raised in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado Springs. When her parents divorced and she was diagnosed with degenerative Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 14, the need to write developed in the days that she was kept from school. She attended the University of Colorado, majoring in English Literature. Her honors thesis “Addiction, Narcissism, and Psychopathology in Wuthering Heights,” examines Brontë’s motivations, pre-Freudian thought, current psychological practice, and asking if Wuthering Heights is the love story that the literary world has portrayed. She loves reading Shakespeare, Christopher Moore, Toni Morrison, Rilke, Wordsworth, Austen, and Romantic period literature. She is working on her second novel, Empire, and still resides in Colorado Springs with her husband and two young children.
Her blog – Dare I Eat a Peach
(From her website, http://www.carrienyman.com)
Who are your inspirations and idols? Who inspires you to write?
I have several favorite authors and musicians that are particularly inspiring to me like Toni Morrison, Austen, Neruda, Pat Conroy, Tennyson, Tom DeLonge, and Colin Meloy; however, I think I would most like to be like C.S. Lewis who wrote both remarkable fiction and nonfiction.
Surely the Rocky Mountains can be a beautiful, inspiring place. Do you find your location inspires or influences your writing?
My next book takes place in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, which is not only a beautiful backdrop, but the only home that I’ve ever really known. My entire life seems to have been spent on a 90 mile stretch of Colorado highway.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I was 10, I won the school’s poetry contest. I won another at 14, and a major one at 19. When I was 20, one of my poems was published in an anthology. I didn’t ever think that I could make a living at it (how many creative writing majors did I know in college who professed that they were the next Wordsworth? tons…). My plan was (and still is) to earn my doctorate in English Lit and teach at a university. So, I think I’ve always known that writing was my strong point and I loved doing it.
I’ve never delved too much into historical fiction. What aspects of it made you decide to write about it in Why Aren’t You Sweet Like Me??
My novel is based on the stories that my grandmother told me when I was growing up. When I turned 25, Honey let me have the letters that my grandfather wrote to her before and during WWII, and so I was able to recreate the narrative from both perspectives. I was intimately connected with this story and had very vivid ideas of how things played out; it’s truly the history of the war that shaped their relationship and (by default) my family. The historical elements of this type of fiction seem to draw the reader in because it can establish a connection beyond character development and setting.
How different is it switching from historical fiction (Why Aren’t You Sweet Like Me??), to YA fantasy (Empire)?
I think my voices for Why Aren’t You Sweet Like Me?? had to be altered from what I initially anticipated because the diction and slang are so different. EMPIRE is set in the near future, and so the teenage speech is closer to my natural voice. The research element is still there; however, it’s just a different era.
You recently had your first book signing—Describe that experience.
It was ridiculously rewarding. All the hard work and creativity put into this crazy idea actually came back to me. I had a lot of people who doubted my abilities, and I probably would have been just as incredulous of a friend’s resolve had they told me that they were going to write a novel. I had entire families coming up to me, telling me how much my work meant to them, that they couldn’t put it down (my exact goal!) and that they just had to tell me. I can’t imagine a more pure sense of satisfaction than I felt at the signing.
Favorite movie and actor(ess)—Go.
“A River Runs Through It.” Daniel Craig.
What’s your favorite book and/or genre to read?
I am a Romantic/Victorian period student. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read Pride and Prejudice or Wuthering Heights.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve received so far?
Don Maass’ The Fire in Fiction helped me to see that a villain is far more intimidating if he is right. This helped me to understand antagonists more and not simply hating them for the fact that I’m supposed to. Sympathize with the devil, make him righteous, and you can terrify your audience.
Thanks again for taking the time for this interview. Do you have any parting words for the readers?
Everyone gets bad feedback. You can’t please everyone, but if you remain true to your ideas and create a whole new world in your work, then everything will fall into place. You may even find yourself thanking them for driving you on in your darkest moments, pushing you to be better. Don’t write for others, but keep in mind that others will be reading it. Dedicate your work to those you love. Honor them through art.