Creative Journal Part 4: The sample pitch...

Originally found here (http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id;=29108) - This, in my opinion, is a nice pitch structure. It covers everything over the main course of the story and fits in one page. What gets me best is the separation of Concept, Story, and Hook. What it is about. What the storu flows like. And why people would read it. Great pitch example as I go about formulating mine.

I, Zombie

Pitch for a Five-Issue Mini-Series

THE CONCEPT: A zombie story from the zombie's point of view. A revisionist horror tale where the undead are the sympathetic characters and the living are the monsters. When the walking dead descend on a secluded mountain town, it's the few survivors who eventually demonstrate the greatest capacity for violence, perversion and evil. The zombies, on the other hand, are simple creatures, who like innocent newborn babies have very basic needs: they hunger, and they feed.

THE STORY: When his secluded mountain town is inexplicably besieged by the walking dead, Postal clerk Willie Scruggs frantically makes his way across town to the sanctuary of the local church, expecting to meet up with his loving wife, but instead finding her in the arms of another man. During the ensuing scuffle, Willie is bitten by one of the converging zombies. Locked out of the church, poor Willie is soon zombified himself.

When one family leaves the church, hoping to drive to the next town, and then returns a few days later as zombies, the other twenty survivors resign themselves to waiting out the siege. Despite their living quarters, the survivors spend little time worshipping or praying. Unable to deal with their outrageous situation, they instead degenerate into a haze of alcohol and sexual abandon. The only outsiders are the awkward, overweight Albert, Carol, a teenage girl who lost both her parents, and the priest, who's suffering a breakdown, since he assumes that the Rapture has come and he's been left behind.

Meanwhile, Willie mills around outside with the hundreds of other zombies. Led by the faint vestiges of instinct or memory, he goes to his old job every morning and sits in the same spot with his old buddies, all now zombies too. He wanders aimlessly through his house and the remains of his former life.

Driven to a lustful rage by the debauchery around him, Albert rapes Carol, and as punishment, the other survivors feed him to the zombies. Soon the humans are making armed assaults on the zombies, hunting them through the woods. Men and women alike take perverse joy in shooting their former bosses, old lovers and annoying neighborhood kids. They mutilate the dead and keep score on who downs the most.

Whenever one of the humans slips up (gets drunk and falls off a ledge, crashes their car on a grocery run), the zombies are there to devour them completely, leaving no shred of meat behind. The human survivors on the other hand leave half-eaten gobs of food all over town. While the humans argue over money pilfered from the dead, the zombies mill about in the bank, tramping blindly over piles of cash. As the sexual escapades of the survivors spawn jealousy and violence, the zombies lie together, oblivious to one another's nudity or sex.

Soon, a drunken mishap with a flamethrower leads to the destruction of the grocery store and with it, the only food supply. As food begins growing scarce, some of the survivors plan to make a try for the nearest town, but find that someone has trashed the engines on their vehicles. As the weeks go by, their starvation and paranoia lead them to begin hunting, murdering and eating one another.

Once the primal descent reaches its zenith, the traitor within the humans is revealed to be Carol, who's been morbidly disturbed ever since her rape. In conjunction with her suicide, she opens the doors of the church, letting in the zombie hordes. Willie's wife, who's been stricken with guilt for months, ends up half-eaten and zombified. Her former lover is skewered on an iron fence and served up like a shish kabob for the undead. In the end, once the survivors are completely wiped out, Willie passes his legless wife, clawing helplessly in the dirt. He doesn't pause, doesn't blink, doesn't remember her at all. He just wanders on, looking for his next meal.

THE HOOK: "I, Zombie" is a different take on the genre than current books like "Walking Dead "and DC's own "Toe Tags." It's a dark, pessimistic tale that should appeal to fans of straight-forward horror work as well as those who prefer their monsters more ambiguous. "I, Zombie" is the thinking man's flesh-eating, cannibalistic gore-fest.

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Creative Journal Part 3

I’ve decided to let script #1 sit for a few days before the first revision. I want to have ‘fresh’ eyes when I go back to give it a more critical look.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to start working more steadily on an indie book project. It’s an Academy setting that takes place in Chicago that starts as a rivalry between two schools, but evolves into something bigger than the students at both realize.

Of course, it’s involving superhuman students (from Mystical characters, to genetically enhanced characters, to mutants, but of course), but throws them all into the same bag in a world that doesn’t treat one type any differently than the other. After all, does it really matter if the kid that can throw a car with his mind was genetically engineered to do so, cast a spell to do so, or was born with the ability to do so? Not particularly—especially not in the eyes of someone having said car thrown at them.

The assembled cast has come together pretty well, I’m happy to say. And the rivalry in the first issue should be fun as heck to go over.

All in good fun. All in good fun.

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Creative Journal part 2

On editing.

Cutting parts out of a piece of writing, or in this case, a script, is probably one of the most difficult parts of the writing process, in my opinion. Sure, you have the occasional easy snip, where you come across a scene or a portion of dialogue that doesn’t further the plot, or overcomplicates things, or what-have-you issue. In these cases, a simple pruning here and there can be all you need—and it’s an easy decision.

But what if that’s not the case? What if you’re given a 22 page maximum for story, and you run to 24? You have two pages to cut… and you have no idea where to cut it from. All the pieces of dialogue, the scenes, they all serve to further the story and propel the plot. Where to you snip?

That’s been the difficult decision. I have, literally, 2 pages to cut from a script. But every scene furthers story, and the dialogue has been paced through panels to not over crowd and to pace the narrative.

So… what do you cut?

So far, it’s been stray panels here and there, combining scenes, shrinking panel sizes to fit more to a page—things of this nature.

It’s still a royal pain though… how much do you sacrifice before you harm the story?

Not an easy call in any case.

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Creative Journal part 1

So, I’ve decided to start writing about the creative process as I finish a script and start working on two other projects.

There’s nothing quite like the nervousness that wracks you when you take on an ambitious project, working with established characters and starting to craft a story—not one that is going to be cosmic in scale. Not one that is going to alter the landscape of any books dramatically… but a character piece that delves into the motivation and self-discovery of a character. One that has been established and needs a little attention now and again.

You find quickly that, as you cycle through ideas and plots, that a lot of antagonists are simply replaceable. In many cases, antagonists, while propel the story and can be very interesting in their own rights, are secondary to how they can service the main characters.

For example, in my current project script, I’ve changed the villain at least three times. I finally settled on one that wasn’t used very often, but still fits the purpose. The villain, itself, did not serve any purpose than to facilitate the necessary obstacles for the main character.

It has been said that if you take dialogue you have written for a character, and can have it said by any character without any difference in impact or wording, then the dialogue was bad. I believe this wholeheartedly. I also believe it is true for stories—and something to that effect has been said many times over.

It all depends on twist and how the characters relate to it. In this case, the main character doesn’t even tell the story for a good portion of the book. It is being told about him. To view him and his actions through the eyes of another before delving into his perspective.

It’s been interesting so far.

The writing process is always so organic if you let it be. There were certain circumstances that I wanted to see in the issue before writing in-depth. I had them plotted. I had them there. Then, as I wrote the script, the characters basically said: no. This is not happening. Re-write this.

That connection, when you feel the characters speak as you write or type, is such a thrill… because when you listen to how they want it to flow, everything just comes out so easily.

It’s not perfect, no draft ever is, but you have a more natural transition through the story and scenes. It is due to times like those that I enjoy writing.

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A question on Internet Friendships

Good Morning, everyone.

I’m writing this to appease a bit of curiosity, and to ask an interesting question: What do you all think of Internet Friendships? The Insightful Bunch and I had an interesting discussion on some of this a few days back, but I was curious as to what the community as a whole thought. As a psychology student, I find human behavior and motivation rather interesting—obviously, or I wouldn’t be a psych major. However, as someone who has had and developed several friendships online, I have to ask: what do people think of this?

Do you view people on the internet as just blips on a screen—or do you actually think of them as people? Do you ever want to be friends with anyone you have met online via a site like this or others? Do you feel comfortable speaking about normal every-day things like you would with a friend in the physical world (e.g. what is going on with you, stuff about your life)? If so, do you feel you have to know someone for X amount of time, or is it a comfortability thing?

These are general questions, to be sure… but I think it would be interesting to get a gauge on people and how they view things. I know people who play it very close to the chest with anything personal, but like talking about movies and games (and obviously comics), and I know people who seem to not care too much about being mysterious or cautious, and will talk freely about things.

In my personal experience, I have made friends online that have lasted over a decade. These people I speak with online, have spoken with on the phone, and even in cases in the Chicago area where I live, have met up for concerts and events (friends met off of a band’s forums, for example). I still talk and hang with these people when I can—and I still talk and keep in touch with those out of state. But, from what I’ve seen so far, this is about a 50/50 split. Some people trust no one online and keep everyone at an arms distance, others are more casual and open up over time.

That being said: humor me if you well, how do you feel about his? How do you view your ‘internet friendships’ or acquaintances?

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Interesting Day...

Maybe deciding to quit smoking cold turkey whilst in the middle of a creative project was a bad idea.

Let’s think about this for a moment. I’m in the process of working on getting a skeleton frame work for two webcomic ideas and formulating a script for another project. The latter is stressing me out a little; especially since I’m at the phase where I look at everything written for the arc, then scratch me head and go: well… maybe this will produce the desired character change better—which in turn changes EVERYTHING that I could possibly do with the summary as written thus far.

Add to that the quitting smoking thing? Yeah… I am not the happiest camper at the office today.

The most unfortunate problem is that it’s effecting the writing process. Ideas seem shoddy and hastily assembled. Nothing passes inspection. I look at ideas I have forwarded to others to look over and just go: ultimately, all of those are crap.

It’s hilarious; or would be, if it weren’t me. 

Funny part is, I truly like the ideas I have put down so far because I can see the script and dialogue in my mind—almost like a slideshow as I read myself the synopsis. Seems I just need to work on condensing that into something mentally digestible.

Anyway… I wonder…what’re the most annoying obstacles people have had to work around while in the middle of a creative project/endeavor?

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Reconstructing Hellion

This is something that I’ve been thinking about for some time, and honestly, something that I believe should be done. However, questions remain; primarily: how do you redeem and rebuild a character that has been so utterly dumped on in recent memory. I see three possible outcomes for Hellion at Marvel’s current rate: 1) Julian rises above all adversity and becomes a hero; 2) Julian is beaten down so far that he becomes a villain of large proportions; 3) They do nothing and he fades into obscurity.

Ironically, as a very big Hellion fan (the depths of which I have finally admitted), I want NONE of the above to occur. Why? Because none of them would do him justice. Let’s think this through, shall we? Julian starts as a womanizer (detention for unbuttoning Emma’s blouse, anyone?), an instigator, an arrogant jerk, and near Magneto-ideological ideas (remember his speech when the FBI took Wither?). People will point to these exact things and say: why does ANYONE like Keller? When he was this person? Only a few. But, there was something that was added that was the redeeming quality: the fact that he would do practically anything for his friends.

This willingness is displayed when he goes after Wither, when he calls on family contacts in homeland security so he and his friends can get to his parents’ place, when he flips out when Brian dies, and several times with Laura. This was just the tip of making his character something more than the ‘arrogant jerk.’ Through the course of Childhood’s end and the New X-Men series, he continued down this line. He was growing as a character. He was still arrogant, yes. He still had a temper, yes. But he grew more ready to help his friends, easing out a bit of his ‘I’m awesome, everyone else sucks’ juvenile attitude. His attraction and silent relationship with Laura seemed to help this process. As he seemed to give her humanity to a degree, she seemed to calm him. A great pair. One I am very upset was shattered—but more on that later.

Additionally, let’s touch on the Kingmaker storyline. Julian’s wish was to be a hero. Was this out of a desire for the limelight, or some deep-seated need to want to be not only important, but a good guy? I feel it is the latter. Dipping into Hellion’s psychology, I believe that the brash, bully, arrogant exterior is due to insecurity over the way his family treated him, and being just… well, a kid about his parents being so rich and everyone else’s being so poor in comparison. In short: the guy never grew up! His time with the X-Men, though, was shaping that. Then… he lost his hands. And his mind, as well, apparently.

After the loss of his hands, we got to see emo Julian. While the handicap is understandably going to cause a great deal of mental trauma, Julian reacted rather… insanely. And for a very long period of time. Yes, I understand his frustration and pain. And the one person who I think he needed there the most (Laura) up and vanished on him. In his mind, I don’t think he really had anyone. He watched people moan and complain about their losses, comforting one another. X-Men treat death as a revolving door, but his hands are forever gone. Yeah. Bitterness. Then, let’s add that whenever someone tries to help him, he feels it is patronizing and gets pissed. He was hurt. Drastically. I personally believe, that if Laura were there for this, he would not have fallen down that slope. I don’t blame Laura, I blame the writers on this front. From Julian’s perspective, he lost his parents (they moved and abandoned him without telling him), his hands, the X-Men already abandoned him once (when he woke up in the hotel room), and now the girl he was finally admitting to himself that he loved… just vanishes when he needs her the most. Is it any surprise he killed someone? The boy had nothing left to lose. There was no further down he could hit, in his mind.

Then, we get the Liu treatment in X-23. Stalker Julian. Be with me or I will make snarky remarks and yell at you until you agree to be with me. Or leave. And, Laura left. Are we surprised? Honestly, I’m not.

So… the natural question is: how does Julian Keller get ‘fixed?’ The answer is simple: we break him completely. This might sound odd coming from someone who just said how much Hellion was thrown under the bus and complained about it. And, really, what else can be done to drag him down even further? The answers to these questions are very simple and are a classical part of redemption stories. Julian must be broken in spirit. He must be shown, full force, what path he has chosen and what it has cost him. And it must be shown that it was all –his- choice. He must be forced to admit to the issues, or at least see that there was another way. Then, once he is at the bottom, and the alcoholic termed ‘moment of clarity’ hits… well, then Julian can start to climb back.

And what about Julian and Laura? As much as I love them together… it can’t be. Not now. Laura needs to experience more of a normal life and Julian needs to put himself back together. Ideally, I would see them as friends… then –slowly- rekindle the attraction and a love between them. Once both can fully appreciate it and have ‘grown up’ in their own ways, I feel that this would be an extraordinarily strong bond.

And, that, my friends, is how I feel we could reconstruct Hellion.

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