So I’ve always been obsessed with @modmad ‘s art style and her comics, and to sorta congratulate her on her awesome kickstarter for TPOH, I wanted to draw her a little MagicStone! (Also I just wanted an excuse to draw Gladstone’s hair but woah woops it turned into this, great)
To all the writers who have ever felt lost, alone, and completely confused during the labyrinthine journey that is writing anything, and felt like screaming this at your story …
There’s a light at the end of that darn tunnel. First, let me describe how I used to fight my way out of these periods of confusion and hopelessness.
Usually, I would try to force myself to get back into the groove of the story. I would reread it, and be yelling at myself in my head, “Remember why you love it! LOVE your book again! Keep reading and FALL IN LOVE, damn it!” I’d go over descriptions, bits of dialogue, banter between the characters. I’d go over settings and imagery, and try to make myself remember how much they’d once excited me. I’d read things that had made me laugh when I typed them, sentences that I was particularly proud of, paragraphs that made me feel particularly clever. But the thing was, it didn’t work.
I didn’t care.
What was the problem? The problem was some of those descriptions, settings, images, and witty episodes of bantering had no Story Reason to be there. They were just there because they amused me. Just because I found the imagery beautiful. Just because I found a sentence or joke really clever and wanted to share my wit with the world. But the world didn’t care about my wit. Because the world (the people reading my book) knew subconsciously that there was no story to give that so-called witty sentence substance and meaning. I could create the most breath-taking images, I could make the most well-rounded living and breathing character, I could make a setting that you wanted to run away from home and live inside … and it didn’t matter. If the thing didn’t have a purpose for being there within the narrative, nobody cared. And I didn’t either.
So what is a Story Reason?
Everything in a story exists to support one of three things.
1. The A-story: The surface plot, the quest of the main character to achieve a specific tangible goal. What the story is about on the surface.
2. The B-Story: The love story, or relationship of the thing. Usually this relationship is instrumental in causing the third element, which is …
3. The Character Arc. The theme of the story, the purpose, the piece of truth the story seeks to prove to the main character and the audience.
If something in a story doesn’t contribute to the progress of these three, there’s no reason we should care about it. It has no point. Because in the end, all we care about is the story!
When it comes to scenes, story reason means continuity. It means the way the story unfolds logically. If every scene is there for a darn good reason, the scenes after and before will make total sense, they’ll connect seamlessly, a steady progression of events. Every scene’s turn triggers the next scene.
And to do this, every scene must be able to be linked with three words:Because of that.
Because of the turn of one scene …
The next scene happens.
And because of the turn of that scene the next scene happens.
To illustrate how this works, let’s look at a small movie you might have heard about called Zootopia. (Thanks to @inked-withlove for the movie suggestion!)
So let’s start at this point, the turn of the scene with Clawhauser and Judy searching the file on Emmitt Otterton.
Turn: “I have a lead."
Because of that …
Judy has to get Nick to tell her what he knows about Otterton.
Turn: It all goes poorly, and now Nick and Judy are stuck together by an incriminating adorable carrot recorder. (The B Story, the relationship, has intertwined with the A Story.)
Because of that …
Nick takes Judy to the place he saw Otterton go, a place he thinks will cause her to give up.
Turn: She doesn’t quit, she marches right in. (B Story: Nick sounds surprised, and a little impressed, that she didn’t back down.)
Because of that …
She has to question a rude yoga-performing elephant.
Turn: Though the elephant is absolutely no help, the seemingly addled yak is more than helpful – he even remembers the license plate number of the car Emmitt left in.
Because of that …
Nick thinks his part in this endeavor is complete. But Judy remembers that she’s not in the system yet, and thus can’t run a plate. Nick, however, can. And he’s going to, or else.
Turn: It just so happens that he has a pal at the DMV.
Because of that …
Sloths. He takes her to a DMV run by sloths and wastes as much of her precious dwindling time as he can.
Turn: “It’s night?!”
Because of that …
Legitimate Enterprise Car Service (at least that’s what it’s called in the screenplay) is closed. Judy doesn’t have a warrant and Nick is enjoying her suffering tremendously. After a spat, she tosses the carrot over the fence instead of handing it to him.
Turn: Because she has now seen a shifty low-life climbing the fence, she has probable cause, and doesn’t need a warrant. She can go in. (B Story: Nick is looking at her with more respect.)
Because of that …
They find the car and begin investigating. The car is a crime scene; claw marks everywhere, the missing otter’s wallet … and a cocktail glass etched with a "B”.
Turn: And it all adds up for Nick. This car belongs to Mr Big, a notorious crime boss. And his polar bear henchman are right outside. They grab Judy and Nick and yank them off screen.
Because of that …
Judy and Nick are wedged between the bear henchman, on their way to face Mr Big.
Turn: Nick sold him a very expensive rug that happened to be made from the fur of a skunk’s butt. Or in other words, Mr Big really doesn’t like Nick.
Because of that …
They wait fearfully for Mr Big to appear, and even when he’s revealed to be a tiny shrew, Nick still launches into obsequious and panicked mode. He tries talking his way out of it, but Mr Big really REALLY doesn’t like him. And when Judy shouts at him that she’s a cop and she has evidence on him –
Turn: “Ice ‘em.”
Because of that …
“No icing anyone at my wedding!” Fru Fru Shrew is not a happy camper. Father and daughter bicker about his promise of no murder on her wedding day, and the fact that “I have to, baby. Daddy has to.” Until –
Turn: “She’s the bunny who saved my life yesterday. From that giant doughnut!” Well, Judy is now in Mr Big’s good books. He’s going to pay her kindness forward. Nick is floored.
I’m gonna stop there.
SO! After going through that analysis of how the scenes are linked together, let’s abandon the “everything needs a story reason to be in there” rule, and see what happens.
After the scene where Judy and Nick reluctantly join forces, we could add a scene where Nick is trying to remember the name of the place, and where it is. Then we could have them asking around, searching the city, refusing to ask for directions, lots of banter. THEN we can finally get to The Mystic Springs Oasis.
And after they get the plate number, maybe Nick grabs the carrot pen and makes a run for it. Then we can have a chase scene, but he gets away. Then we can have Judy trying to run the plate on her own, before realizing she isn’t in the system, and failing. Then we can have a scene where she has to track down Nick again. Then a scene where she figures out how to blackmail him into it. THEN they finally get to the DMV.
And you know what would have happened then?
Zootopia would have made everyone bored.
All of these inserted scenes are unnecessary. Sure, they might add conflict, add complications to Judy’s quest, but they’re ultimately just filler. They’re just there for the sake of bulking out the story. This is why that tip I hear so often in writing circles always perplexes me: “Figure out the worst possible thing that can happen to your character, then do that.” If people went with this rule, they’d just keep throwing terrible things at the characters for no apparent reason, one after another, and the reader or audience would be expected to be entertained by it (but wouldn’t be). It would be like cartoons before Mickey Mouse came along and applied story to animation: before, cartoons were just gag after gag, slapstick situations mashed together like a funny video compilation. Except with books and movies, it would just be conflict-heavy situations strung together, taking an inordinate amount of time to make any actual progress.
Once you make sure everything has a purpose within the narrative, things get so much better. And I find, when I reread my work I don’t have to scream at myself to “love your book or else” if everything has a reason for being there. And instead of feeling like yelling at my story like an angry overworked crab, I feel a lot more like this gif.
Brodie said his car was is in for a service, and asked for a lift home from work. He wanted to get dropped off at the gym for a training session, as he only lives round the corner.
When we arrived the gym was empty, it had closed 3 months earlier. He explained his intentions were not to go to the gym, but to find a quiet spot. He told me he had noticed me checking him out on site the last few days. He gave me a cheeky grin and said “if you wanna suck me off now is your opportunity” while he popped it out the leg hole of his hot shorts.
Another happy ending to a hard day at work:)
The narwhal(Monodon monoceros), is a medium-sized toothed whale that, along with the beluga whale is one of two living species of whale in the Monodontidae family. It lives year-round in the Arctic waters around Greenland, Canada, and Russia. The most conspicuous characteristic of the male narwhal is a single long tusk, a canine tooth that projects from the left side of the upper jaw, through the lip, and forms a left-handed helix spiral. A tusk grows throughout life, reaching a length of about 5-10 feet in length. It is hollow and weighs around 22 pounds. About one in 500 males has two tusks, occurring when the right canine also grows out through the lip. Only about 15 percent of females grow a tusk, which typically is smaller than a male tusk, with a less noticeable spiral. Collected in 1684, there is only one known case of a female growing a second tusk.
I have noticed that when all the lights are on, people tend to talk about what they are doing – their outer lives. Sitting round in candlelight or firelight, people start to talk about how they are feeling – their inner lives. They speak subjectively, they argue less, there are longer pauses. To sit alone without any electric light is curiously creative. I have my best ideas at dawn or at nightfall, but not if I switch on the lights – then I start thinking about projects, deadlines, demands, and the shadows and shapes of the house become objects, not suggestions, things that need to done, not a background to thought.
Still working on getting ready for Chapter Three, but I’ve been dying to practice animating because I’ve been getting some ideas so I snuck in some practice. I’m slowlyyyyy getting used to Flash again (the last time I used it was…psshhh 4 years ago?) but I keep using my Photoshop hotkeys and it’s frustrating, haha XD
I made this while on my work computer which has CC 2015 on it, but if I can open this file on my laptop (which has CS5) and I don’t fall asleep immediately after arriving home I might just stream me coloring it and adding glitches and such.
hey i’ll be eternally annoyed that percy’s gone to new rome university or w/e the it’s called, but like I can’t stop thinking about the dynamic of him being the first Greek to ever study at their university or like just the first student to study there that’s not from new rome or wasn’t in the legion. I mean the Greeks and Romans have baggage that goes back centuries and you can’t tell me everyone would accept the Greeks coming and living with open hands ya kno?
(I’m assuming he’s the first demigod from camp half-blood/anyone to study there that hasn’t been living in new Rome for a while.)
It’s entirely possibly that Stiles has never been more tired in his life. Okay, that’s a lie, but he’s still pretty damn tired. Running from one end of the city to the other over and over again on various calls always did that to him. Especially when half of those calls end badly, like today. He’s so fucking tired and honestly these are the kind of days that make him question whether being a cop is actually worth it.
Now as he approaches his house, he just wants to get out of his uniform and sleep for a thousand years.
Of course, that’s the plan. Stiles gets all the way through opening the front door, unbuckling his holster and stowing it in the locked safe in the entryway, and kicking off his shoes, which is part one of that plan, without complication.
“I’m home!” he calls out, shuffling down the hallway toward the muffled sounds he can barely hear coming from the living room. He rounds the corner to see–
Derek sitting cross-legged on on a blanket in the middle of the floor, the twins splayed out on their backs in front of him. All three of them are shirtless. All three of them are covered in finger paint. The boys have got some pretty impressive paintings of various animals on their chests considering the medium: Garret’s got a snarling cheetah taking up the most space, and Adrian’s stomach has a dragon with its tail wrapping around his side.
Derek’s got messy hand prints and swirls and smears all over his torso, with a few things that look like heartfelt attempts at farm animals. He’s also got blue finger paint in his beard. And glitter in his hair. Like, a lot of glitter. Seriously, did he let the boys just dump the whole tub of it on his head? He probably did, honestly.
As Stiles watches, Derek leans forward and shakes his head, sending glitter raining down on the boys as they squeal and laugh and try to roll away. Garret catches sight of Stiles in the doorway right before he rolls off the blanket and onto the pristine carpet, catching himself just in time to not make a mess with his painted chest.
He and Adrian are off the floor and preparing to throw themselves at Stiles in a heartbeat, but Derek catches them both by the waistbands of their pants and pulls them back.
“Whoa, there, tigers,” he says on a laugh. “You’re all messy. Wait until you wash up or until daddy gets out of uniform, okay?”
“Wash up!” Adrian says, and leads the way in a stampede for the bathroom.
Derek watches them go, shaking his head. Then he turns back to his husband, leaning back on his hands, and looks up with a smile that never fails to make Stiles’ heart skip a beat even after all these years. “Rough day, honey?”
“You’ve got a little something,” Stiles says teasingly, pointing at his own face. Derek just rolls his eyes and levers himself to his feet, unfair amounts of muscle on display as always. He saunters in close, crowding Stiles against the doorjamb.
Derek kisses him, slow and deep and thorough, and all the stress of the day melts out of him to leave every muscle achy but lax. Stiles hums into it, wishing he could really wrap his husband up in his arms but mindful of all the paint. He grasps onto Derek’s shoulders instead, anchoring himself there. He’s reluctant to let the moment end, but they do have to breathe sometime and the kids are probably coming back at some point.
“You’ve, uh. Got a little something,” Derek says, thumbing at Stiles’ chin where the paint from Derek’s beard has rubbed off on him.
Stiles huffs, flicks him in the chest, and says, “Jackass.”
Derek laughs. “And yet you love me anyway.”
More than you can ever know, Stiles thinks, just as the boys come thundering back down the hallway.
They collide full force with Stiles, nearly knocking him over backwards, each one latching onto a leg. They’re still wet from washing the paint off, but that’s okay. Water doesn’ stain, so they can cling onto him all they want like this. With a groan of effort, Stiles lifts up one leg (and Garret) and then the other (and Adrian), painstakingly making his way into the living room until he can collapse on the couch as the boys giggle.
Once he’s sitting, they clamber up to sit half-on half-off his lap instead, both of them trying to tell him about their day at the same time. It’s a loud jumble of largely incomprehensible words, but Stiles listens attentively as he always does. And he trades looks with his husband – his gorgeous, amazing, ridiculous husband who’s watching him with the softest look on his stupidly handsome, paint-splattered face. And he can honestly say that he has never been more content.