Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Writing is Hard: The Clever Trap

The other day I read something that made a lot of sense and I want to capture it here.

It was on a message board commenting on a particular cartoon, but the idea can apply to all writing. A fan of the cartoon defended it by saying that it's "funny because it defies your expectations."

To which someone who didn't like it replied, "to think that anything strange or unexpected makes a good comic is to fall into the trap that makes so much 'clever' art and literature fall flat on it's face. Always, always, always comics should firstly be moving, amusing or entertaining."

The word "comic" could easily be substituted with "story," don't you think?

I realize when I look at some of my short comics stories that I fell into that trap. I went for clever, twist endings instead of moving or amusing stories. Certainly not all of them, but some. Johanna Draper Carlson didn't mention me in particular about this in her review of Tales from the Inner Sanctum #1, but she did notice the phenomenon when she wrote, "many (of the stories) rely on twist endings that become predictable once the reader realizes that most of the contributions are aiming for such."

This is something that I need to remember to think about if I write more short comics stories.


Jason Copland said...

Or, if you co-write something longer........:D

Michael May said...

Absolutely! :D

I wasn't even thinking about longer stories when I wrote that. With those, characterization and theme are two things I consider a lot. It's just VERY hard to work those elements into a five- or six-page comics story. At least for me it is.


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