Monday, June 3, 2013

My week off in two pictures

There are times when your DIY art thing really doesn’t make sense to anybody but you. Last week was one of those times.

I took the week off from writing/posting chapters to work on art for Masks volume 2. And it’s getting done (slowly and behind schedule, like everything else. One of the results is this preliminary sketch of Mike, sitting on a familiar riverbank (note the bridge in the background):

Why, of all the images I could have chosen for that chapter, did I pick Mike? Well, for one thing, these early chapters involve a lot of people walking around in the dark and talking. That’s hard to draw, if you’re me. (Actually everything is hard to draw, if you’re me, but more about that later.) And Mike … well, he’ll be important later. That’s all I’m saying for now. Plus I didn’t have any art of him except for the dopey group shot in Volume 1, where he came out looking weirdly like Nightcrawler from X-Men: Evolution. I don’t know what was going on there.

The other thing I did this week was this:

Yeah, that’s 41 cards. It’s not a Masks saga—it’s Teh Novel, which had previously taken up about 20 cards. On the advice of a much better writer than I, I cut most of its chapters in half so readers wouldn’t blanch at the prospect of 4000 words before t heir next chapter break. (I’m used to reading books with 20-page chapters, or no chapters at all. Shut up.) The same stuff basically happens, though I’ve added a few events. But making an entirely new deck of scene cards, figuring out where the new chapter breaks would fall and doing the final placement of the four poems that appear over the course of the book (those are the cards with the blue stripes on the top), turned out to be a great exercise.

For one thing, I had to figure out how to work in the definition of the word resurrectionist if the book is to keep its current working title, The Resurrectionist’s Song. For another, I had to invent an arc for a minor character who kind of didn’t do anything in the previous draft except foam at the mouth on cue, stab the protagonist in the stomach, and then mysteriously stop foaming and stabbing in time for the finale. But more importantly …

As I was working on these cards, I found myself slowing down to reread sections of the previous draft. That’s always a good sign—like most writers (I suspect), I write first and foremost for my own entertainment, and getting distracted by my own story usually means it’s finally starting to work. And around about the time I got to the three-quarter mark in the deck (card 27, right before the third blue poem card—and yes, that brown/orange stripe means it’s an emotional crisis and a physical fight scene), I noticed that I could hear my heart thumping in my ears. It was louder than it had been on the elliptical machine in the gym the previous night, right before I realized I couldn’t breathe and had to drop off. I’m pretty sure I don’t have an undiagnosed heart condition (I am very careful about that kind of thing—long story), which basically meant my book was getting me more worked up than an actual workout.

Good signs. But nothing terribly photogenic (or blogogenic, I suppose). So that’s what I’ve been up to. More stuff soon …

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