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Now Thatís Rich 4 Ė Edited To Death

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Well will ya look at that? I already have three columns behind me and Iím feeling comfortable. I never thought something like this would ever see the light of day, especially with a schedule such as mine. But alas, my love and appreciation for writing has prevailed. Writing the column has become nearly as easy as baking a pie. All right, I lied. I donít know how to bake a pie. I donít even know if you ďbakeĒ a pie. Am I ignorant of pie-making procedures?

You bet.

Let me rephrase then: writing the column has become nearly as easy as toasting bread. White or whole wheat bread mind you, not the bagel kind. I once tried toasting a bagel and it caught on fire. My Mom told me to never toast again. I didnít listen and since then Iíve burnt several more. That was, until I figured out that I should have cut the bagels thinner. Well who wouldíve known? Silly me.

I hope youíve enjoyed the first couple of columns. As a writer I get this great feeling when people e-mail, call or come up to me and tell me that my writing was enjoyable to read so please do just that. If you want, I can put your comments in the column. The link can be found above by clicking my name. Itís also equally useful (to some degree) when people give me criticism. If no oneís there to criticize, then how can I as a writer improve?

After writing this column over several days I send it off to my ever so skillful editor and I get it back with dozens of suggestions. I use almost all of them. Always before I send it to him I go over the column to make sure itís ok. It never is and will most likely never be. Not until he takes a look at it. Youíll never see me thank people (mostly because there usually isnít anyone to thank) but my editor Graham is the guy whom I owe the existence of this column too. For supporting all of my wacky projects (like this one) and for the time he takes out of his schedule to edit this column, my comicís scripts, my short stories and poems and whatever else comes to mind. Youíll never find a better editor than this.

Thanks.

Youíll never hear me say it again. Unless we hit it big of course *wink*.

ďDoes all this have any point?Ē I hear you asking. Indeed it does. There are two extremely conflicting ideas that have been swirling around in my head (along with the cheesy Joe Millionaire music and my own personal revenge theme for that new TV show ďAre You Hot?Ē) about my stance on editing. I can see the benefit of the system as it corrects any grammatical mistakes and such but how much editing is too much?

This weekís been hell. I got ten hours of sleep in the last two days since I had to work on an English project, finish writing (and re-writing) several drafts of a modeled story and this is in addition to the normal work I get from school. Donít think Iím complaining, because in all honesty Iím not but when I canít go to the comics store on a Wednesday then there has to be some problem. Seriously though, waking up at seven in the morning and coming home after a seventeen hour day after doing projects is insane. I can slowly feel it tearing my mind apart. When youíre forced to take a day off school once in a while from too much schoolwork, then you know thereís something wrong with the system. The only light I have at the end of the tunnel is four months away. Itís barely a sparkle now, but I try and find hope in the little things, like the grades, they sure cheer me upÖ

Ah, yes. Where was I? Editing. I have two poignant examples of why too much editing is a bad idea. The first being the modeled short story where I was given the task to write four separate drafts that had to be edited by four different people. Does anyone else see whatís wrong with that? Iíd get the copies back with little discussion of my work and little or no useful comments of what was good and bad about it. I then have to somehow ďmagicallyĒ put all this editing together and the final draft, the ever so super duper polished copy, didnít turn out how I wanted it. Sure, the basic structure of the storyís there. But thereís nothing else. Iím pissed off at enforced restriction of having to model something closely and conforming to an editorís whim. If you have a vision of how your story should be laid out, do it your way. Can you imagine the horrendous state that Sandman would find itself in if it were altered at the command of an editor? Itís Neil Gaimanís vision, his story telling sense and his creative freedom to explore the Endless, the dream world and mythology his way that made the book a success.

My second example hits closer to home. Graham and I are heavily involved with writing and editing several of our own comicís scripts for submissions. I do most of the writing and he does most of the editing. The first project I had in mind came about a year and a half ago when I realized the potential that the comicís medium had. Though I donít necessarily mind writing stories in prose, I found it easier to tell my stories visually and through dialogue. At least for me, it eliminates one hell of a lot of time and I can get the ideas from my head down on paper as quickly as possible. I was recently writing a short story for the 2000 AD submissions and I had a simple scene in mind with dialogue. I knew how the panels were going to flow in my head so I just wrote down the page-by-page dialogue for the story so I wouldnít forget it. Stephen King said that he has so many ideas that heíll never use. Judging from his work output this is true. I may not be like that, but I found that the more I write, the more ideas pop into my head.

It feels so long ago now that I was sitting in my grade eleven-history class that this first project came into being. I was reading Kingdom Come at the time, and when I got to the end it so happened to have a sample page of the script by Mark Waid. This for some reason intrigued me at the time. The sample page was typed up in ridiculously small font so I wrote it up by hand, took a look at how things were set up and started writing my own ideas down. This turned into the first issue of a planned six-issue DC Elseworlds script, which as of this date has been put to temporary rest for two obvious reasons. The first was copyright stuff and second, it was far too ambitious. Iíve finished the third issue and I know where Iím going with the series but I put it to rest since I found that none of the big companies were taking submissions. At the time (it seems like an awfully long time ago) I didnít know you had to start small with independents or self-publishing to get noticed by the big companies.

Writing the first three issues turned out to be the most challenging thing I ever did. After writing the first draft Iíd sit with Graham in his unheated basement editing and arguing back and forth until we got somewhere. Usually we didnít and Iíd leave his house bitter. There was a serious problem with editing the scripts. I remember in the beginning that weíd spend months on the first and second issues, until we were satisfied. All the work we did seems pointless in retrospect, as we were never completely satisfied. This was partially due to reading too much into what we were doing. We lost all sense of telling a good story and focused on telling a perfect story. It took us one hell of a long time to realize that there was no such thing as a perfect story. With all the editing we did, we lost sight of what really mattered and therefore the project didnít go anywhere. Thatís when we realized that indeed, we were too ambitious and that we should start writing a lot of short stories on a smaller scale.

So we did.

Donít get me wrong I am not against editing. Itís an essential part to the writing process. Just remember that itís the writer who is the central storyteller, donít let an editor disrupt you from telling your story and trample all over your work changing your vision. Remember to always move forward with your stories. If something doesnít work, leave it and come back to it with fresh perspective and if something doesnít work at all, just toss it. Itís not worth wasting your time being chained down into writing something that you know will never be completed. Or else youíll end up like I did with my first project. Edited To Death. And we donít want that now, do we?

Random: I shall call youÖhmmÖletís see ďthe good, the bad and the ugly.Ē Sort of sounds like a name for a daytime soap operaÖ This isnít necessarily a review more like a rant turned criticism turned well, into a rant or what the heck, maybe not.

Letís start off with the good shall we? Last week I read among many things the fifth Sandman volume, A Game Of You. This was very good and served as a good storyline on its own. I enjoyed the unique exploration of one personís dreams. The unconscious meaning behind the dreams was very neat and the dialogue was excellent. Highly recommend you pick up this volume if youíre a new fan since it can be read as a stand alone without prior continuity.

The bad. Last week I also got the chance to read Frank Miller and John Romita Jr.ís Daredevil: The Man Without Fear. It was yet another retelling of Daredevilís origins, and it didnít bring much to it that I hadnít seen before. I felt the writing surprisingly bland and the artwork very uninspired. I donít get what all the fuss is about John Romita Jr. Iíve seen his work for the current run of Amazing Spider-Man and I donít see whatís so special about it. I donít know, maybe Iím wrong. Maybe my expectations are too high.

The ugly. Supreme: The Story Of The Year. Didnít Alan Moore say that he had nothing else to say about super heroes after he wrote Watchmen? I had a feeling he did. If someone knows for sure, drop me an e-mail. Anyways, this gets the ugly for the ridiculously horrible printing quality. I read a lot of trades and Iíve never seen a printing job as bad as this. It looks like the pages were scanned and hastily put together. Weird to say the least. The one inventive thing about this collection was utilizing different art styles from different ages; it was neat to see Golden Age, Silver Age and modern comic book art all in one collection. But alas, stay far away from this if youíre an Alan Moore fan.

Have a good week and Iíll see you in two.

R.F.






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