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Old 12-14-2011, 05:07 AM
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Interesting JMS Facebook Posts & Tweets

I found a cool post over on JMS' Facebook page this morning that it would be easy for folks to miss even if they follow him because he was answering a question somebody else asked. Since it struck me as something worth archiving, I've decided to start this thread and see how it goes. Mostly, I'm thinking to just post stuff that isn't specific to any one project that will already have its own thread. The format will be similar to what we did for the "Asked and Answered" books where a question asked is paraphrased and then JMS' answer.

Question: A poster asked JMS to describe the path a writer takes and to comment on where JMS feels he needs to improve as a writer as he's been re-evaluating his work in monthly comics.

Quote:
I think if someone goes at this thinking "it'd be fun to write for a living," he's making a serious tactical error. First off, it's lonely, painstaking, agonzing work where there is no clear win for many years. You go down the road of thinking you're doing right or growing, or at least hoping you are, but you really have no clear idea if you're doing it right and may not know for years. Samuel Delaney got literally hundreds of rejection slips before ever selling anything. In any other job, whether it's building a house or selling widgets or making cars, there's some sort of external standard you can use to determine if you're doing it right. Until you begin selling, you have no idea, it's all internal.

Second, the only reason you should write is because you don't have a choice, because you *have* to write, not because you think it'd be cool or fun. Stephen King said you don't write for the money, or the fame, because if you do you're a monkey; you write because to not write is suicide.

Those two points out of the way, probably the single biggest point of transition is learning to listen to your own voice and get out of your own way. We all get this notion of what writing is supposed to be, that it's supposed to sound literary, or sound like some other writer you admire, but what it's really supposed to sound like is you. Writing is nothing more or less than talking on the page in your natural voice, letting nothing censor or intrude on that. Good writers write the way they talk and talk the way they write. You have to learn to make it natural by un-learning bad ideas.

Many years ago, a young and struggling Isaac Asimov was sitting with his agent, trying to figure out voice (which is not the same thing as style). His agent said, "You know how Hemingway would write, 'The sun rose in the morning?'"

"No," Asimov said, eager for illumination. "How?"

"The sun rose in the morning."

You just say it. And getting to that point is one of the most difficult battles a writer fights on the way to becoming a pro.

As for reviewing my own comics work...I'm looking at it in terms of characterization, action and overall plotting. Dialogue I know I can do, that's not an issue, and in general I have a good handle on characterization, at least in terms of the main characters. But I'm finding that in my comics work, often the supporting characters get short shrift, or are too completely excised. Some of that was necessary to bring the focus to the main character, who got lost in the underbrush, but I started to rely on that too much, so that sometimes the worlds my characters inhabit aren't as varied or interesting as they need to be.

Similarly, sometimes my comics plotting tends to be too narrow in focus...I can write big broad epics in tv or film, but I seem to keep having a problem translating that into comics. Ditto with action: most of the action in my books tends to be one-on-one instead of big free-for-all brawls. There are writers who can do those big massive battle scenes really well; I'm finding that this is a weakness on my part, so I'm re-evaluating many of those scenes to say, "Okay, if I were writing that right now, how could I broaden the scope of the action and make it more varied, more interesting, with broader ramifications?"

The goal with this, and really all writing, is to keep adding tools to your tool box, so I'm looking over my work to see what tools I had going into this, what they allowed me to build, and what new tools I need to acquire in order to build more textured objects.
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Old 12-14-2011, 06:33 PM
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This one was fun from Tues. 12/13:

Question: A poster asked if JMS had any new Buddy stories.

Quote:
Only one offhand: Buddy is a talker, he likes to chat, he'll just mutter and chirp at you, wait for you to reply, then mutter and chirp back at you. He likes doing this. He thinks he's talking. So not long ago I brought him to the vets a...nd he had to stay for a couple of days for tests. He was in one of those cage things that looked out into the main room where the interns worked.

And he'd chat with them. Somebody would come in and he'd startle the hell out of them by striking up a conversation. He'd say something, they'd laugh and respond, he'd respond back, on and on. He liked the attention.

So one afternoon there was something going on and they were busy and nobody wanted to stop to chat with him. He tried several times to get a conversation going, but nobody was interested. Finally, out of frustration, he upended the thin box they used for his litter, turned it sideways, slipped it through the bars of the cage so it fell outside, then scooped out every tiniest bit of litter until the box was completely clean, the contents on the floor outside.

They came in, saw this with astonishment, and he looked at them like, "NOW do you want to talk?"

After that, when he wanted to talk...they talked.
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Old 12-15-2011, 05:42 AM
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Talking

I fear for the psychological welfare of our friend Buddy!
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Old 12-15-2011, 06:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeMonk View Post
I fear for the psychological welfare of our friend Buddy!
I've long suspected that Buddy may be the most spoiled cat in the known universe.

Jan
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Old 12-26-2011, 10:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jan View Post
I've long suspected that Buddy may be the most spoiled cat in the known universe.

Jan

Yes. Like most cats!
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Old 01-29-2012, 04:38 AM
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A couple of fun things JMS shared tonight:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fans of J. Michael Straczynski
Matt Stone and Trey Parker talk writing. http://www.mtvu.com/shows/stand-in/t...ise-nyu-class/

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fans of J. Michael Straczynski
Five musicians. One guitar. 41 million hits. And a pretty good song. http://www.youtube.com/​watch?v=d9NF2edxy-M
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