SYMBOLIC: ADVENTURES IN TEXT
« August 2003 |
| October 2003 »
September 26, 2003
062: Lightbulb Action
"I don't know why I keep being timid about this. If I'm going to play with occult histories of the world, I might as well do it right. All this fucking around in the shallow end of the pool is just silly."
I said this a week ago in a moment of brain dumpage as I was just trying to figure things out and it seemed innocent enough as I wrote it, but an hour or so later it became a light bulb. The problem I've been having with the tone of this book and the one I started -- ugh, two years ago now -- was how strange could I make the world and not lose my audience. How much "unreality" could I expect them to believe up front?
Underworld's $22 million at the box office last weekend reassures me that audiences aren't thinking about this nearly as hard as I am. Again, the overthinking thing. Okay, so if people coming to the work are ready to play, then I should certainly meet them at the edge of the sandbox, ready to go as well. Part of the trouble is that I keep thinking of the text as a mainstream book which is a strange hang-up that I'm not quite sure where I picked up, but it is time to get past that mind-forg'd manacle.
And, as the light bulb went on, I could see who had flipped the switch. "Yes," I agreed, nodding, "I do need you." The wolf smiled; he likes it when I admit that I need his help.
Jack's going to die. Maybe not in the first chapter, but definitely in the early part of the book. He's been useful to me, but he's an albatross. I'll try to make it quick and painless, Jack. I owe you that much. Sorry about your friends though. Yeah, you'll have to live with that. The readers need to see how the monster works and you got the short straw.
Mwahahahahahahahahaha. I am not a benevolent god.
Posted by Teppo at 11:27 PM
| Comments (0)
September 23, 2003
One of the great things about comic books is that they are both narrative and visual. And, when you talk about the floppies, they are serial adventures -- chunks of a larger story that are meant to be digested in a short space of time. You have 22 pages to hook your reader, advance the meta-story, and leave 'em wanting more. Not unlike a chapter in a novel when you get right down to it.
The visual aspect of the medium means you have to give thought to each panel, each instant of time which you want to freeze, and I think this is one the great benefits of the comic script. It makes you think in image snapshots; it makes you compose visually. You have to turn that all into words, but as an exercise in visualization, it is a great way to lay down some framework for the work.
PAGE 1. The page is broken down into three full-page horizontal panels in a 25%, 50%, 25% split.
PANEL 1. Night. Heavily wooded area. There is a haze in the air, a miasmic remnant of a recent fire. Some of the trees on the edge of the panel were too close to the fire and are twisted and black.
CAPTION: I DON'T HUNT PEOPLE.
PANEL 2. A clearing in the forest used to contain a farmhouse and pair of out-buildings though all three have recently been burned to the ground. The frame of the buildings, though they have been twisted by the fire. One of the outbuildings had metal struts in it and the melted and fused shape looks vaguely like the shattered ribcage of a dead animal.
PANEL 3. A dark-haired man stands in the shadow of a burned tree and examines the ruins in the clearing. He is clearly uncomfortable with the setting. This all seems wrong to him.
CAPTION: THIS WAS A FAVOR FOR A FRIEND.
PAGE 2. Six panel layout -- two across by three rows.
PANEL 1. A room lit by yellow light (in direct contrast with the cold and bleak colors of the burned clearing). The dark-haired man --MARKHAM -- is listening to VIRGIL DELACOURTE, a slight fellow whose upscale wardrobe can't hide the fact that he is a died-in-the wool code geek.
VIRGIL: I KNOW THIS ISN'T WHAT YOU DO.
VIRGIL: BUT YOU ARE GOOD AT FINDING THINGS.
PANEL 2. MARKHAM hasn't moved. VIRGIL is pleading his case.
VIRGIL: WE DON'T KNOW WHERE HE HAS GONE.
PANEL 3. MARKHAM kneels near a piece of burned wood in the clearing. The terrain has been pretty chewed up by the volunteer fire department which responded to the fire. The ground is muddy and the half-buried log is black with char.
PANEL 4. The yellow room again. VIRGIL and MARKHAM as PANEL 1.
MARKHAM: I'M IN THE ANTIQUE BUSINESS. YOU KNOW THAT.
MARKHAM: I'M NOT A BOUNTY HUNTER.
PANEL 5. The yellow room. VIRGIL's attention is turned towards someone off-screen.
(OS): WE DON'T WANT A BOUNTY HUNTER. WE WANT SOMEONE WE CAN TRUST.
PANEL 6. Another angle on the yellow room. Standing behind Virgil is a slender woman with short black hair. This is LIZ KIMBREL.
LIZ: WE JUST NEED SOMEONE WHO KNOWS HOW TO FIND THINGS.
PANEL 7. Yellow room. On MARKHAM.
MARKHAM: PEOPLE AREN'T THINGS. THEY TEND TO SLIGHTLY TO BE MORE...
PANEL 8. The ruined farmhouse. MARKHAM has entered the burned structure. He is standing close to a ruined wall, leaning forward as if he is smelling the soaked and burned wood.
PANEL 9. Close-up of MARKHAM's face. He is smelling the wood. The collar of his leather coat is open enough that the white band of braided hair about his neck is visible.
PAGE 3. Six panel layout -- two across by three rows.
PANEL 1. The ruined farmhouse. MARKHAM doesn't like what he smells.
PANEL 2. MARKHAM POV towards the sky from inside the farmhouse. The black ridges of the ruined walls are like fingers against a grey sky. If it isn't raining already, it's going to start soon.
CAPTION: THIS IS GROUND ZERO OF THE GPS READING I WAS GIVEN.
CAPTION: THE FIRE HAPPENED FOUR NIGHTS AGO.
PANEL 3. Aerial shot of the yellow room, looking down on LIZ, VIRGIL and MARKHAM.
CAPTION: A DAY BEFORE THEY CAME TO ME.
PANEL 4. The yellow room. Close-up of LIZ. She is clearly agitated and worried.
LIZ: WE THINK WE'VE DISCOVERED SOMETHING. JACK WENT TO CHECK.
LIZ: HE CALLED IN EVERY NIGHT. UNTIL THE NIGHT BEFORE LAST.
PANEL 5. The yellow room. LIZ has come closer to the table, standing behind VIRGIL. MARKHAM'S POV towards VIRGIL who is shrugging his shoulders.
VIRGIL: CELL RECEPTION IS SHIT OUT THERE. IT COMES AND GOES.
VIRGIL: WE DIDN'T THINK MUCH OF IT AT FIRST.
PANEL 6. As panel 5.
VIRGIL: JACK DOESN'T LIKE LANDLINES. TOO MANY EARS.
VIRGIL: YOU KNOW? TOO MANY PEOPLE LISTENING.
PANEL 7. The yellow room. Focus on MARKHAM.
PANEL 8. LIZ's expression to VIRGIL says: "Do you trust him?" VIRGIL's unspoken response: "We need to tell him."
PANEL 9. The ruined farmhouse. MARKHAM is crouched near the base of what is left of the front door to the farmhouse, examining the floor. He wipes away the soot and crap to reveal a piece of stone that has inscribed symbols in it.
CAPTION: THEY WANTED MY HELP BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T KNOW WHAT THEY HAD FOUND.
CAPTION: THEY WERE HOPING THAT I DID.
Posted by Teppo at 04:43 PM
| Comments (0)
September 20, 2003
060: What Have You Got?
I've got Nazis. They're handy. You can always rely on the Nazis when you need villains. Of course, we're getting far enough away from WWII that any survivors of that conflict are going to be doddering old men. Another decade and you'll be lumped into the historical fiction section when you say, "I've got Nazis."
Operation Paperclip was a clandestine plan by the US to recover Nazi scientists from Germany before Russia acquired them, ensuring that we got the smart kids working for us during the Cold War. Now, because my brain is hard-wired to see the Illuminati in the shadows, I've got to ask: why not extend this possibility to the occult practitioners of the Third Reich? We know Hitler was cuckoo for cocoa puffs when it came to the occult. Who is to say that he didn't know something that the rest of us didn't and there wasn't some occult reason why things went awry. And, if we run with this theory, then it is possible to read that the occult armies of the victors participated in the same sort of people salvage that Operation Paperclip employed.
It has just occurred to me that the British would want to be involved in this sort of salvage, being more primed for this sort of knowledge than the Americans. While that would follow, I'm inclined to see this as America's attempt to get in the game. If they could salvage the occult arm of Nazi Germany as their own, then they would have the stuff to level to playing field with England and Russia. We were (and still are in a depressingly anachronistic fashion) always trying to be acknowledged by the rest of the world as being the coolest kid on the playground.
We'll call them ACE -- the American organization tasked with the recovery and extraction of the occult secrets of WWII. Do they know what they're getting or are they just children, eager to play with the toys of adults? How long before they hurt themselves with these toys? How long before these toys start controlling them?
Sixty years later. What happens when someone starts asking the wrong sort of questions? Who is left to get nervous about the exhumation of old policy and older mistakes?
Reading back over other SYMBOLIC entries, I can see that this is really all that I have. The rest is ephemeral, extremely mutable and quixotic. This is the core idea that I want to play with. I know who and what ACE recovers from the war, and I'm not going to reveal either here because I want to keep at least one secret from you until the book is done.
I don't know why I keep being timid about this. If I'm going to play with occult histories of the world, I might as well do it right. All this fucking around in the shallow end of the pool is just silly.
Deep breath now. I'm diving for the bottom.
Posted by Teppo at 08:49 AM
| Comments (0)
September 17, 2003
059: The Middle Bit
I wish I could tell you that I've been in the south of France for the last few months, taking a tour of the wine country. I wish I could tell you that I did a very European thing and took the month of August off and went someplace else, but the only part of that which would be true would be the "someplace else" bit. My head has been someplace else. Busy, I suppose, tied up in minutia and things which are both irrelevant and completely consuming.
One of the precepts of this blog was the idea of letting everyone see the process and, at the time, I thought the process would be this whizz-bang pyrotechnic storm of activity. You know the reality? Nothing is going on. Not a damn thing. Which is never a state that a writer wants to be in.
Is is writer's block? No, I've got words by the truckload. The vehicles are lined up around the block, waiting for the signal to dump their loads. I just can't seem to get the foundation poured. This is silly, really, and the longer it goes on, the more frustrating and paralytic it becomes. I've got no plot.
I wish I could get past this roadblock. It seems to hit me every time. I get completely self-critical of the action and can't seem to be groovy enough to let the story work itself out. I get myself so tied up in structure and symbolism that I can't extricate myself enough to figure out how the pieces actually fit together. It's completely annoying. I've got the 50,000 words written last November (almost a year ago now!) that I probably won't ever use. I've got four different openings written, and I kinda sorta know how the end pans out.
But I've got no middle. I've got this huge, fucking hole right through the middle. Come behind the curtain, gang, and take a look at it. It's big. All sorts of vacant space. And while you're marveling at the blank landscape, I'm going to scamper off to my escape balloon and evacuate for Ohio.
Of course, that wouldn't solve anything. I've had four other ideas for novels since this whole adventure began and each has had that seductive excitement of being new. But they are kernels of ideas, tiny seeds which need to be nourished and properly grown. I can see the flowering plant which they may grow into, but I can tell you that I've given no thought to the actual process of growing them.
You know, the middle bit.
There, the awful secret. Time to get past it now. This isn't how I wanted things to end. This is, after all, the middle bit where the first fires have burned out and the real end is too far off to be visible and there is nothing but the miles and miles of desolate scrub in every direction.
Take a compass reading, pal, find a star to navigate by. One foot in front of the other. This is the middle bit.
Posted by Teppo at 10:46 PM
| Comments (0)