After a long hiatus I've been able to get back to writing the follow up to Chronokari Alpha: Time is Relative over the past week. There were some initial moments where a blank computer screen looked back at me in silence but it didn't last very long. I had already completed the first draft of Chapter 1, so I read it over a few times to get reacquainted with what I'd written. Then I went back to the notes that I prepared before I even started to write this new Chronokari book. Once the story and my plans for it were refreshed in my mind, I jotted down a couple of new notes and began to write Chapter 2. Even though it had been several months (six I think) since I had finished Chapter 1, moving back into Miles and Derrick's world was anything but a struggle.
One of the ways that I plan my writing, be it a review, article or script is to put down my initial thoughts in point form. When I'm doing comic book scripts or writing novels, I use the point form notes to help me create a beat sheet which outlines the major scenes of the narrative in chunks. The chunks typically consist of paragraphs that are five or six sentences in length. Once I've plotted the story from beginning to end with the beat sheet, I go back to the chunks and expand them by adding dialogue and exposition. If there are parts of the story that need expanding or deleting then I just refer to the beat sheet and the manuscript and make the necessary changes.
The beat sheet is a tip that I picked up from my good buddy Peter Van Horne. He writes for my magazine and website, Comix Asylum and he's quite a student of the process behind creating screenplays. He's a Blake Snyder disciple and highly recommends his books Save the Cat! and Save the Cat! Goes to the Movies to anyone who is interested in learning how to write proper screenplays. I must confess that I haven't read Snyder's books yet but I do follow some of the tips Peter has passed along. I'm a little more organic in my writing and pull from all sorts of sources (comics, TV, film, cartoons) for the way they structure and pace their stories. I use Snyder as a guideline and then weave in and out of his best practices to create my own style.
The beat sheet is just like the thumbnail sketches that comic book artists use to create their fully rendered comic book pages. The beautifully rendered pages that we see in comic books usually start out as scribbled plans that allow the artist to pace a story through 22 pages and to work on storytelling elements to make the script flow visually on the page. Once the thumbnails are done and they are satisfied, the artist takes them and recreates what they've drawn on 11.5 x 17 inch artboards. If changes have to be made or the visuals don't flow smoothly, adjustments can be made before inks and colors are added.
All of this talk about comic books brings me to this. After some thought this week and a conversation with my Comix Asylum partner, Vaughn Joseph, I've decided to turn Chronokari Alpha into a comic book. I'll start to plan it out in the next few weeks and will keep you posted on the developments. That's it for now and I'll see you in seven or less.