On Writing

Write What You Know (Because Learning Something New Would Be TERRIBLE)
ComixTalk.com, August 2010
“Write What You Know” is probably the most common advice writers receive, so much so that it is accepted wisdom; and yet this is quite possibly the worst advice ever given to a writer.  Here is what I understand this advice to mean: writers should be lazy and ignorant, and we should never, ever challenge ourselves to try to understand people who aren’t ourselves.

Write Every Day. Or Don’t. Either Way, Really.
ComixTalk.com, August 2010.
Writing really is work, and like any kind of work, every writer has different habits and patterns that allow them to operate at peak productivity….Some folks thrive on routine; others shut down entirely.

On Experimentation and Collaboration
June 2009
Shelli’s been great: she’s honest, she’s critical, and when she doesn’t like something, she lets me know. And sometimes I’m resistant. Sometimes what she’s telling me completely contradicts my own Great Idea. Sometimes I feel like she’s missed my point completely. But then I go home and I mull over her comments….And then I start to realize that my original Great Idea was actually a Pretty Sucky Idea disguised as a Great Idea.

Thoughts on My Own Prose, as I’m Revising
May 2009
All my writing life, I’ve always felt that there is great value to working in more than one form—lessons that can be learned in one kind of writing that will benefit you in another. So much so that you can grow in skill in a form that you’re not even actively working on. My best achievements in one project always happen while I’m working on a different project.

The Writer’s Lament
January 2006
I’ve often heard comics creators lament that so many comics readers will completely ignore incompetent writing for the sake of pretty art. It seems that all too often, smooth lines, slick colors, and dynamic design end up overshadowing the facile dialogue, tired jokes, and predictable or even incoherent storylines that accompany them.

Expressive Dialogue, Part One: Mannerisms and Word Choice
February 2006
Different people speak differently; they use different words and different syntax. Understanding the individual speech mannerisms of your characters will go a long way toward helping you distinguish them from each other, as well as from yourself.

Expressive Dialogue, Part Two: Stammers, Accents, and Affectations
March 2006
It?s very rare that anyone writes truly naturalistic dialogue. Hardly anyone attempts to capture all the false starts, stammers, run-on sentences, “ums,” and “ahs” that typify actual real-life conversation. In real life, most of these non-verbal utterances are meaningless space fillers; in writing dialogue, the goal is to convey ideas and personalities, not to make a study of contemporary vernacular linguistics.

A Practical Guide to Collaboration, Part One
Comixpedia, May 2004
Rewarding though collaboration can be, however, it does offer a number of obstacles and challenges that must be addressed if the overall experience is going to be a positive one. Fortunately, none of these challenges, from choosing a collaborator to calling it quits, is insurmountable, with a little forethought and some basic courtesy.

The Editor’s Role in Webcomics
Comixpedia June 2004
As everyone knows, chief among the benefits of producing an independent webcomic is the freedom from any sort of editorial input or criticism….That seems to be the prevailing opinion, anyway. That editors might actually have useful skills and services to offer is a little-considered possibility.  Ultimately, the involvement of a skilled editor will help the writer to produce tighter, more polished work. Work that’s not only more enjoyable for readers, but that is also more satisfying for the writer.