Messycow comics was started with an impulse. I didn’t spend any time designing anything, just dove in and started drawing. If you’ve paid attention, from the beginning till now the style has been all over the places. Now I’ve done over 60 strips. it’s time to give it an art direction.
I do this all the time since I’m a game concept artist. The reason why I didn’t do it from the beginning is that when you have ideas that you are passionate about, get on it, start working and making things happen. Too much planning and design could ruin the momentum. Also, you want to make the beginning as simple as possible. Starting a new thing is hard enough, don’t restrain yourself with too much planning, and in this case, designing.
Anyway, I made this character sheet tonight( I know I’m overdue with comics, but I had this strong urge to design at the moment). The Messycow character is the hard one, I wasn’t happy with the one I had before and I’m still experimenting. What do you think? Which one do you like more? Your feedback helps!
Whether it’s about why a character would
commit murder or why someone would want a do-over in life, I get a lot of
questions about character motivations. This is a very important question to ask
yourself to develop a believable character because for every action and
decision that is made there is some sort of motivation. You eat because you’re
hungry, you sleep because you’re tired, you plot to take over the country
because the current government killed your sister and framed it on you to further
their political agenda. Or maybe you eat because nobody can turn down the
deliciousness that is mint chocolate ice cream, you sleep because you’ve got a
ridiculous migraine from all the ice cream, and you plot to take over the world because you plan to outlaw eating
mint chocolate chip ice cream to have it all for yourself. No matter what the motive
is the important thing is that the character has one. To help you come up with
one for whatever insanity you’re planning (the scenarios I’ve seen from all of you make me equally proud and baffled) I’ve come up with a few points to
consider to get your thinking gears moving.
Consider how it relates to the
main plot and subplot(s).
Going back to taking over the
country, there are millions of ways this story could unfold. What differentiates
each and what makes it interesting is why the character wants to do this. Martin
Scorsese once said “The king died and then the queen died is a story. The king
died, and then queen died of grief is a plot.” This is the way a character’s
motive works: your story tells the reader what happens but the why and how is
always more interesting. So ask yourself what kind of impact you want this
motive to have on the plot because it is what will drive everything. When a
character doesn’t have a motivation (like a villain who is evil because) there
is no direction and no intrigue in the events as they unfold.
Is it out of fear or desire?
To put it very simply,
character motivation is fueled by either fear or desire (or maybe both). You
could eat because you saw someone else eating cake and now you really crave some
too, or you could eat because you fear dying of hunger. There are always primal
fears and desires like the desire for survival, companionship and happiness and
a fear of death and pain. These are great and can often come up but also try to
personalize them to your character so the reader feels why it is important to them. Once you having something fueling the motivation it becomes much more real and
gives you a better idea of how to use it.
Make it fit with the genre.
Along with personalizing to the
character, it’s good to keep in mind the tropes of the genre (remember tropes
are not the same as clichés). In a romance the reader expects one of the
motivations to be love, in a thriller it’s often about a fight for personal
survival and/or to save someone or something. The reason this is important is
because it would be odd for a character’s main motivation in a story about
saving the country from foreign invasion to be becoming a pianist. Unless, of
course the story is really about a young talent who loses their chance to
travel to a music school because of war, but now the plot has changed, hasn’t
it? There can be multiple motivations, especially when you cross genres like a
YA adventure, or thriller with a romance but just remember that readers who
give your work a try have certain expectations based on the genre so either try
to match or rethink the genre you’re really writing.
External and internal
External motivations are ones
that are imposed on your character by external forces while internal
motivations come from within themselves (personal desires). For example, take a
police officer tasked with finding a kidnapped victim. They have the external
motivation of solving this case because it is their job and failing at it would
be failing their assignment and leaving a life in peril. They could also have
many other personal motivations driving them like having lost their best friend
to trafficking or something completely unrelated, like they are motivated to
make their little kid proud. You can also try to make these motivations specific to differentiate from characters, at least in your own mind so you can weave that into the characters. External motivations can push the character into
the plot but the internal ones can keep them going when things get tough and make readers truly sympathize with them.
Finally, do your homework.
No matter how many tips you
read here or anywhere else, none of it is going to matter if you don’t sit down
and work out your character’s motivations to fit them and your plot. If you need
motivations for something that you might not be familiar with (eg. why someone
would commit a specific crime) or you need more information about the topic…RESEARCH!
Remember, remember, remember that there are no cutting corners when it comes to
writing so take a seat, let your mind explore the possibilities, and get to