Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

Get outta the way!!!

Monday, August 11th, 2008

So, you know that research rule I talked about? Yeah, I am dangerously close to tripping over it. In my efforts to do this project justice and right, I am trying to serve many masters (the fans, my editor, myself, and many others who might be reading this upcoming project). In all honesty, the main master I need to serve is the Story. What is going to tell the best story?

I spent 2 hours this evening pouring over a decade’s worth of issues trying to find the right moments, the right dialogue, the right references. A great deal of it probably has little to do with what will ultimately be the final result, and what does make it in will please some and set others into a tirade. How could I address this and not that? How could I leave out this minor reference on page 15 of issue blah blah?! Obviously, I will be a hack to some people. But that’s just it – no matter what any of us do, there will be those who will find fault in it. Every work is flawed. If creative people kept working on something until it was so perfect that no one could complain, nothing would ever be finished.

I need to step back and stop looking at where these characters have been and look at where they are now, where they need to go, and what makes them the people they are. I also need to make sure that I am telling the Story I want to tell. Not in a possessive “this is MY story” way, but the Story I feel I can tell, what voice I bring to the table.

Basically, I need to get out of my own way and get to creating. For those who don’t realize we are all in this industry out of love for the characters and the medium and will hate anything because they can only see the faults, go ahead and buy your tomatoes now. This way, if you don’t like the story, they will be nice and rotten and prime for throwing when the story hits.

To the rest of you, thank you for enjoying and supporting.

Until next time,

– Jim

A little help from My Webfriends – Spy Films

Sunday, August 10th, 2008

Hello again today!

Quick change of pace and the possibility of the start of a themed series. A lot of times, message boards can be terrifying pools of snark-infested cyber-water, filled with bile. An update on an old saying should now be: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, post about they WOULD do it better on a message board.” Sometimes, however, you stumble across sites that are that rare gem, with helpful, intelligent people who actually think before hitting “post” and honestly like people. Two such sites are below:

Brian Michael Bendis’s message board – The main site for one of the top writers (and nicest guys) in the comic book industry.

Twitter – I suggest signing up (super easy) and finding people who you don’t mind “following” as they spend 140 characters answering the question “What Are You Doing” (follow me here).

Sometimes, I throw out questions to the masses (that IS what Web 2.0 is for after all) about a variety of topics. This goes back to the research topic earlier. It’s a way to help tap into the knowledge of all those around you may have on a subject you don’t know a lot about or want to know more of. I like doing this because I learn a lot more not just about a topic, but about my webfriends. As I ask a new question, I will post the results here. These will most likely be entries I update/edit as more roll in, but I wanted to centralize some info for myself (easier to go back to when research times happen) and also for others who may be reading this little sliver of the blogosphere.

Today’s question posed: What are some good Spy/Espionage films?

Answers are below in no particular order. Please keep in mind, these are suggestions gathered from others, not solely from me. I have seen some, have loaded others on my Netflix queue, and will look into the rest. Enjoy!

The Spy Who Came In From The Cold
The Bourne films
North by Northwest
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Manchurian Candidate
The Bank Job
Layer Cake
Three Days of the Condor
Casino Royale
The Jackal
Spy Game
The Recruit
Mission: Impossible
True Lies
Where Eagles Dare
The Third Man
The Falcon & The Snowman
The Ipcress File
Le Femme Nakita
The Company
The Good Sheppard
The Conversation
The Avengers (TV series, esp the Emma Peel years)
Notorious (1946)
The Parallax View
Defense of the Realm
The Man Who Knew Too Much
The 39 Steps
The Spy Who Loved Me
The Tailor of Panama
Smiley’s People (BBC mini)
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
Alias (Especially Seasons 1 & 2)
The Quiet American
Ice Station Zebra
Foreign Correspondent
Our Man Flint
No Way Out
Marathon Man
To Live & Die in LA
Extreme Prejudice
Le Circle Rouge
Army of Shadows
The Day of the Jackal

Until next time,
KEEP READING (or in this case, WATCHING)!

– Jim


Sunday, August 10th, 2008

Hello there! Why look, day two of the blog and I’m making my second entry. Nice start…

I’m not looking to post an incredibly long entry today (or at least right now), as I am eye-balls deep in research. But I wanted to talk a moment about that. One of the best bits of advice I ever got was to do all the research you can, but follow two rules – 1) know when to stop researching and start writing, and 2) never let your research show. Just because you learn a cool fact, don’t jam it in there because it’s so awesome you HAVE to show everyone how much you personally know or learned about a subject. If you are writing a thesis, fine, cite your references and write all about your findings. But if you are writing fiction, your research should be done to get to know your characters, not to brag that you did it.

Learn what you can about your characters. This doesn’t just mean to know where they are from, how many siblings they have, and their favorite ice cream flavor (although those things help establish well-rounded characters as well). You should also try to learn as much about what THEY know as possible. This way, what they say and do will ring true to their experiences and their knowledge. Learn what they they would know, and let their experience and your research come out in their actions and, where appropriate (and in their voices, not in long-winded exposition) their dialog.

People can say what they will about Wikipedia, but it is at least a good place to start your research. You can use it as the Cliff’s Notes version, but be sure to look at the related links or cited footnotes in the articles to get more info. Side note, if you are ever at a loss for ideas, check out the featured article of the day on their home page. If you are still stumped, look to the left at the Navigation tab and click on”Random Article” a few times. I guarantee that eventually SOMETHING will pop up that will make you stop and want to read more about it (within 3 clicks just now, I got to The Blasphemy Act of 1698)

Personal side note – LOOK! I figured out how to insert links! One web-challenge down, hundreds to go…

Right now I am reading as much as I can about a variety of subjects- from what it takes to get a PhD (which I did not realize stood for Doctor of Philosophy until I started – thank you Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Radio/TV/Film), certain scientific disciplines, Film Noir poster art, weapons used throughout the ages, and even the rules of centuries-old organizations. Talk about jumping around. My “Bookmark” section is getting a work out. As is my Moleskine notebook. I can’t stress this enough- when you read something, or hear something on TV or in a movie- write it down! You’ll be amazed at how quickly just writing down something will switch your mind on and you’ll find yourself writing that tidbit down from your character’s point of view or at least how it applies to your story.

As a gift last Christmas, Joe Quesada gave us all in publishing Marvel-embossed Moleskine notebooks. In it was an amazing inscription: Some of the greatest creative minds and thinkers in the modern era have used Moleskine notebooks like this one for jotting down their thoughts and ideas. This Moleskine is dedicated to you and your next great idea. Thank you for an amazing 2007! Well, Joe, thank YOU. I can only hope that what I am filling this with is worthy to be called a great idea, or at least a good one.

Until next time,

– Jim

PS – so much for not posting an incredibly long entry! Ha! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to exercise Rule #1 of research and get some writing done!