Carolyn See’s Charming Notes in Action

09/24/2011 1 comment

Six months ago, I wrote about Networking. In that post, I mentioned Charming Notes, an idea I read about in Carolyn See’s book, Making a Literary Life. The jist of Charming Notes is: write a fan letter or an encouraging note to someone you admire, everyday. By doing so, you make friends and your network expands.

I told everyone that I would put Carolyn’s idea into practice for a month and then share the results with you. Well, as promised, I’m here to tell you the results of my little experiment. I hope you find it inspiring. Read more…

Categories: Blog

How to Create a Legendary Hero

I recently watched Lawrence of Arabia for the first time and noticed a number of similarities to other stories I’ve read and watched over the years. The patterns I found could come in handy when creating a hero worthy of a legend.

Lawrence of Arabia is based on a true story about T.E. Lawrence, an officer in the British army during World War I, who unites warring factions of the Arab people against a common and formidable enemy, the Turks. He inspires them with the promise of an independent nation (freedom) and risks his life on the battlefield again and again for the Arab people and for the value of freedom.

Does this sound like another story? Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized

How to Use 3-Act Story Structure in Comic Strips

09/03/2011 26 comments

Hey everyone! Sorry for the hiatus. I’ve moved to New York City and needed the time to get things in order. But I’m back now and raring to talk about how to use three-act story structure in comic strips.

So, here we go!

Recently, I gave a lecture at The Center for Cartoon Studies Summer Workshop introducing the very basics of three-act story structure.

Since the majority of students were entirely new to the idea of story structure and the rest of the week’s curriculum focused on creating comics that were no longer than one page in length, I knew the graphic novel approach I usually take on my blog wouldn’t work.

So, I developed a lecture on how three-act story structure is present in stories no longer than 4 pages, including daily comic strips.

In just three to four comic panels, you can utilize three-act structure to tell a story. If there’s conflict and a character reacting to that conflict then you’ve got a story and that can easily fit within three or four comic panels. Read more…

Categories: Blog

Short Notes on Long Comics is Now an Ebook!

Short Notes on Long Comics: 10 Great Examples of Story Structure in Graphic Novels is now available on Kindle for only $0.99!

And soon, Nook. (UPDATE: Now on Nook, too!)

Since I know very little about html coding, I used a template at to design the book in Open Office. It was so easy to learn that I designed my book for both Kindle and Nook at the same time and had them uploaded within a few hours.

One day later, Short Notes was available on Kindle and 24-72 hours from now the same will be true for Nook. Piece of cake.

Feel free to download a sample of Short Notes and let me know what you think of it. I look forward to hearing your responses!

Categories: Blog, Comics & ePublishing

FAQ – Would you sign a work-for-hire contract?

Would I sign a work-for-hire agreement?

Sure. But be aware that story consulting is a service (UPDATE: I’m not currently taking any story consulting gigs. Thank you.), and work-for-hire contracts are technically moot when applied to a service. So, sure, I’ll sign it. But do you really want me to?

If you don’t know, work-for-hire is a term referring to work done for a flat fee. The worker retains no rights (copyright, trademark, film rights, publishing rights, licensing rights, etc.). No royalties are expected. No salary. No benefits. The employer doesn’t even have to give you credit for the work you do. Just the flat fee and that’s it.

It’s simple and black-and-white. Employers love it. And sometimes it’s great for the worker as well because they just want a quick job, a little cash and minimal mess. In this way, work-for-hire can be a really great thing.

The trouble starts when work-for-hire is used outside of its intended purpose. Read more…

Categories: Blog

The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler

07/02/2011 2 comments

The Writers Journey by Christopher Vogler is fantastic. I know plenty of people have said the same thing in the past 12 years since it was first published but it’s true.

The Writer’s Journey (now in its third edition) is essentially a laymen’s version of The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. It simplifies Campbell’s dense writings about world myths and The Hero’s Journey for the modern day writer using examples like The Wizard of Oz and Hitchcock films.

I didn’t think The Writer’s Journey was so great when I first read it. There is a lot of story theory in this book (A LOT) and it discusses multiple paths writers have within each given section of The Hero’s Journey, so it is really easy to get overwhelmed with information.

But now I realize what I was doing wrong: Read more…

Categories: Blog, Books on Writing

Male and Female Character Arcs

First, let me make it clear that characters do NOT have to be male to have a Male Character Arc nor female to have a Female Character Arc. Both Male and Female Character Arcs are unisex. Typically, males have a Male Character Arc and vise versa, but they are not bound by gender.

I made the mistake of not clarifying that point a few weeks ago and almost had the limbs torn from my body by irate female storytellers.  Read more…

Categories: Blog

Q&A with Chuck Austen – Wild and Wooly Press

06/04/2011 1 comment

Two months ago, I wrote a post titled Why Kindle Has No Comics. The response has been really good, but the best response was a comment made by Chuck Austen. He published one of the comics I mentioned in the piece and had to set me straight.

I claimed that the comic he published, Kindle Comics, couldn’t be making money due to the $.15/MB fee that Amazon charges per download, but he told me his comic is making money and he hasn’t seen any sign of being charged this fee at all. This got us talking and I decided to share our conversation on my blog.

I was really excited to hear about his experiences with digital publishing. If publishing comics on Kindle is a viable option for making at least a little bit of money with our comics, I wanted share that with others and get more comics out to readers.

Okay, here’s the Q&A… Read more…

Categories: Blog, Comics & ePublishing

FAQ – Could My Screenplay Make a Good Graphic Novel?

05/28/2011 11 comments

“Could my screenplay make a good graphic novel?”

People often ask me that because they have a script that hasn’t sold and they don’t know what to do with it. For whatever reason Hollywood studios have passed on it (not necessarily for a good reason, mind you), and the writer’s agent or friend has comforted the writer by saying, “Maybe it would make a good graphic novel.”

That’s a great idea! The writer feels like the project has a second life. They feel liberated from the Hollywood gatekeepers. Their script will become a graphic novel and everyone will love it and Hollywood will pay a million dollars for the film rights and the writer will blow raspberries at everyone who didn’t believe in their project at the beginning. Ha!

There’s only one problem: the writer doesn’t know anything about the process of making a graphic novel. So, they come to me asking, “Could my screenplay make a good graphic novel?”

Let me answer everyone who could possibly ask that question by saying a graphic novel can tell any story that film can (utilizing its own strengths, of course), so, yes, a good screenplay could be adapted into a good graphic novel. But the real question is:

Do you really want to make your screenplay as a graphic novel in the first place?

When thinking about adapting your screenplay into a graphic novel, here are a few (potentially sobering) things to consider before jumping in: Read more…

Categories: Blog

3 THINGS – Creating Characters You Can Connect With

05/21/2011 3 comments

“The whole thing is, you gotta make them care about somebody.” -Frank Capra

People cry during the opening ten minutes of Up. How did Pixar make that happen? We’re moved when Katniss volunteers herself in Prim’s place in The Hunger Games. Why? Why do we root for Gordon when he’s sent to Gotham in Batman: Year One? I mean it’s not like these characters are real, and yet they can affect us as though they are. Somehow, we connect with them and they become real. The writers did that. How do we create characters that people will connect with in our own writing? Read more…

Categories: Blog, Books on Writing