Saturday, May 18, 2013

EXPLORING UNFAMILIAR GENRES & STYLES

First of all, I have a confession to make, the subject of which led to thinking about this topic.

No, I don't have any bodies buried in the crawlspace--actually, I don't even have a crawlspace.

And I prefer to stash bodies in the woods, anyway.

Kidding. Everyone knows swamps are best for that sort of thing.

Okay, I should stop before the cops show up at my house. And for any cops who might run across this, I don't live anywhere near any swamps, or have convenient woods-access, just to make that clear.

The confession isn't anything so damning as that, but is something that isn't high on the Socially Acceptable list, particularly for anyone past, say, their early 20's.

Here we go: I'm an anime nerd. (Runs to escape flurry of tsk-tsk-ing...)

There's a whole debate over whether or not anime = cartoon, but from people who don't categorize it separately, I've heard Seriously? You still watch cartoons? Aren't you a little old for that? Then they give me one of those weirdo! looks, where you'd think I had said I've got bodies buried in the crawlspace.

But here's the thing: I got into anime back in the days of Space Pirate Captain Harlock and The Rose of Versailles, such old-school stuff you'd find it in the Relics section of an anime museum (which would be a totally awesome place to visit), I've been into it ever since, and I'm not giving it up. In fact, I'm so into it that these were some of my presents for the past few gift-giving occasions:


So, what does that have to do with writing?

Well, there is anime originally produced as such, but for the vast majority, the source material is manga. I don't do nearly as much manga-reading as anime-watching--not that I have anything against it; that's just how it's always worked out--but I have read a fair bit, and I started thinking, could I write in that style? I'm not enough of an artist to do the artwork, so it would have to be a collaborative effort, but could I even manage writing the story?

In manga, much like American comics, there's typically very little exposition, and just a sentence or two of dialogue per art panel. (For examples, go check out Viz Media's free previews.)

But how is it actually written? More or less the same way you'd write any story, then drawing the corresponding artwork, then adapting the story accordingly?

With my zero experience, I had no idea, so I did a little research and found that, barring any mangaka and manga artists who might work differently, it's written in script format to begin with. (See this wikiHow for a nice text + pictorial rundown of the basics for creating manga).

Since I also have zero experience with scriptwriting, I'm not left any better off in that regard, but it is something I've always wanted to try. The question is: could I? And should I, when I'm still in the (very) early stages of getting anywhere as a writer at all?

I don't really know the answer to that, either, and that has me thinking about this entire topic in a broader sense. How much is too much? In how many different directions should we attempt branching out? To wherever our creativity takes us? Or even simple curiosity, wondering what we we could accomplish, what it would be like just to try, what we might come away with even if we couldn't produce anything useable? Would the learning experience itself be enough to justify the time spent, whatever monetary expenses might be involved, the fact that it would take those things away from other projects?

Is all this something we can only answer for ourselves, an ultimately personal decision, or should we approach it from a business standpoint, debits and credits, how will this affect the bottom line, i.e., where exactly am I trying to go, how much of a detour would this require, and can I spare the extra miles? Would approaching it from a business standpoint be a personal decision in itself?

In the end, I guess it comes down to that same old question: are we in this for the creativity, or trying to build a career? Does it have to be a choice? Do you have to sell out creativity in order to have a career? That's been debated from here to the moon, and I doubt the space odyssey will stop there, but how do we answer these questions just for ourselves?

Of course you ultimately have to do whatever works for you, whatever you can live with, but figuring out what does work, what you can live with...I wonder how many other writers and creative types feel that they have such a distance still to travel.

Maybe even much, much further than from here to the moon.

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