I keep getting asked about my creative process about the moment. Here on the blog, on social media and in real life. So for the next few weeks, I will post a wee bit about how I create the Fears and attached images.
First of all, the writing of the tales. I find doing something every day, even for a few minutes, can help maintain both quality and quantity of whatever I am creating. Simple daily practising. Part of my morning routine is to write six tales. I used to write whatever was in my head, so I got a mixed bag of stories each day. In the Fears future, the stories have themes and plots throughout, so now I write six separate stories per day, but to a theme or around a plot point.
I usually discard three of them and keep the three best. As I only post one story per day here and use the rest further down the line for books, this gets me miles ahead of where I need to be writing wise. I am currently writing tales that won’t be posted online until 2021. Compiling them into books, ninety at a time, also leaves me writing my 13th book today. I have so far only released two.
That does have a downside that I can barely remember what I have written. Further down the line in the Little Fears story, the books develop a plot throughout. So they consist of ninety or so flash fictions like you currently read here, all individual and they will be readable as a stand-alone story, but they have a strong theme or plot throughout.
An example of this would be Reala, the 5th book. She finds herself in a pub on the road mentioned in a few Fears tales. Serving drinks to wandering spirits. In one chapter of twelve gags, she has a troupe of penguins in the bar. All twelve stories can be read independently as jokes and dramas, but they form a single narrative of them arriving, causing havoc, then getting slung out.
Past the 5th book, the stories run throughout entire books. Plot planning can be tricky when you are generating stories so fast your memory cannot keep up.
It’s worth saying as well, for each short story, I usually write with the punchline or twist in mind and steer the story towards it. That’s easy to do when your fiction is as short as mine. For the longer narrative, I have a vague idea of where I am heading, but rarely know if it’s the final destination until I get there. Occasionally I have a final scene in mind, but that’s always an epilogue scene, not a final encounter scene.
The last part of this is the chicken and egg question. Do I write the stories or do the accompanying doodle first? I used to write and doodle six of each a day and would mix and match using characters I had just drawn, or redraw a panel for a tale.
When I got the 4th set of 90 doodles, I sat down with all the photos I had printed not used and filled them all in, then wrote the stories around them. That didn’t work for me at all. I was able to write all 90 tales for the characters, but I just felt they all looked to samey. They lost their personality. When I got onto the next 90 that would form Reala, I wrote the tales first and doodled after. That left me with a stronger visual theme throughout the images. It was such a stark contrast; I ended up going back and redrawing half of the previous 90 panels for Hydra.
For anyone wanting to get into writing or brush up on some writing skills, I have a few course suggestions for you from Skillshare. As always, a 3-month premium subscription to Skillshare costs just $0.99 and lets you visit thousands of online classes in all sorts of subjects.
2. Picture Books I: Write Your Story
By Christine Nishiyama. Ignore the picture quality. The content of the class is good covering structure, character development, dealing with word counts (yep that appeals to me!) and coming up with story ideas.
3. Creative Nonfiction: Write Truth with Style
By Susan Orlean of the New Yorker. Not aimed at us fiction writers, but, she covers everything in some depth for a 1-2 hour course. The course includes dialogue, descriptions and story elements. A lot of us subconsciously pull details of our real life into our writing, so I found this course pretty helpful.