Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What Story Are You Telling?

I've been working hard on my story, Die, Baby, Die!, for almost a year now. I've gotten so invested that I feel as though I know the characters personally. I've enjoyed getting to know the characters (even the annoying ones) and how they've taken me into unexpected territory.

Working on a longer piece like this, I thought I knew exactly how it would all end up. But the story has gone through many, many different iterations. It started out as a straight up Demon Slasher story, with only one true main character, Chiyoko. I was going to be short, 90 pages, and to the point.

The further I got into my demon research, the more involved the story became. For months I wanted to show just how a demon could walk on earth among us. I spent months reading up on it and trying to fit it into my story. It wasn't until a few friends and close ones looked at it that I realized I was trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Time to give up my intricate demon possession and demon back story. Dammit.

Meanwhile I'd been working out the characters. Shinji, Hisashi, Chiyoko, Yumiko and Miyuki were the big ones for the first chapter. I couldn't wait to get started on Inspector Ieada, but he wasn't to show up until the second chapter. I've always enjoyed a large cast of characters who are involved in something big, who are completely different, but are forced to be together. I find that you get the most interesting dynamics that way. I always thought people who worked together was the way to go for that, but High School works too. I remember hanging out with many people who weren't my favorite around that time in my life.

The characters had started taking on qualities that I hadn't expected. That is when writing comics is the most fun and rewarding for me. They've all won a little spot in my heart for their inadequacies and quirky hang-ups. I remember hearing from a couple of friends who I showed my first draft to that I should cut a few of my characters, that they had no point in being there. I went very strongly the other direction and gave said characters larger parts and explored them more than ever. I'd gotten very attached to the little world I'd created and couldn't see compromising it for anything.

So, I finished the first chapter last month. It was very rewarding. There are a few pages and panels I want to touch up here and there, but it's mostly finished. I'd talked to a few people who read it and they had pointed out how their favorite character is Hisashi. I must admit that I didn't see that coming. I had wanted Chiyoko to be the favorite character from the get go. But then I had her saying and doing things that I hadn't planned, but fit her character like a glove. Thus making her flawed and less sympathetic, but more real. I'd heard from a few friends along the way, and am hearing it more that I've finished the first chapter: the main character of this story is Hisashi.

What? I'd always thought it was Chiyoko. Hisashi was a huge part, sure, but the story centered around Chiyoko. At least it had in my head. I'd always figured they were the two main characters, Chiyoko and Hisashi, but Chiyoko a little more main. It looks like I could have been wrong. Sometimes you get waaaay too attached to a story that it's hard to see things clearly. I like feeling that close to a story, I wouldn't want to tell Die, Baby, Die! any other way. But it was interesting to get that feedback about Hisashi, I'll be paying more attention to what I'm doing and how I'm telling the story and how it's sways the readers. I'm not going to change any plans that I've already laid down, but I am going to be more mindful of what scenes convey to the readers. I had gotten too submerged in my own world that I'd almost forgotten what it would look like for a reader who only gets to live there between the pages.


Anonymous said...

Where exactly can you find accurate material when researching demons? I mean, goodness knows the library must have an extensive occult section, but we all know you're not allowed back at the library, Matt. Not after what you did.

Matt Aucoin said...

Shit, now the whole internet knows too.

Matt Aucoin said...
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