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Author Topic: jeph does your inability to control your story disturb you?  (Read 7072 times)

Trollstormur

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I'm no stranger to the idea that an inanimate object, even one that is only an idea or an electrical interface with an idea could be given personhood, even unconscious will as an aggregate of individuals' input. Here we see a story leading an author despite his intentions, but lacking any brain or body, is the story merely too restrictive, leading exploration within the medium, or simply the human author's inability to properly empathize with an 'unsentient person' leading him back to humanity?

I'm reminded of a story of unsentient alien intelligence, a race of star-going people from a science fiction novel that were by all outward indications a sentient peoples, possessing language and trade, and even fought wars and made peace diplomatically, whichever suited their ends better; but for the all their similarities, their 'society' was a veil, concealing the face of a culture that arose not out of conscious thought but through trial-and-error natural selection, and individuality and self-recognition were completely missing.

I'm also reminded of a corporation.
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bicostp

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I imagine it would be more like this after a while.

Is it cold in here?

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The story is a reification of facets of the author's humanity, over which control would be an illusion and a fallacy.
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akronnick

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The story is a reification of facets of the author's humanity, over which control would be an illusion and a fallacy.

Pretty much sums up the entire notion of free will itself.
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jwhouk

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Joel's Law.
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snubnose

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Err, Jeph does write much like I write ... if I write.

Not that my stories would be even remotely as good as Jephs stuff, but still.

But I also dont like knowing the end of the story when I start it. I rather see it developed naturally from the characters themselves.
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Laws of sexual dynamics:
1. In a given dispute, the female is more likely to be correct.
2. If you think a girl is attracted to you, you are wrong.
Or in short: As a man, you can't win, you can't break even, and you can't quit !

jwhouk

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You know, Trollsturmer, if I didn't know better I'd SWEAR you were an alt of Jeph's.
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Trollstormur

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if that were true all you motherfuckers would get banned
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Kugai

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Not if you were a clandestine alt.
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James The Kugai 

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Why on earth would it disturb an artist that his creations were so vivid they began to have apparent free will?
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DSL

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Why on earth would it disturb an artist that his creations were so vivid they began to have apparent free will?
Indeed; one would think it represented the success of the creative process.
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Is it cold in here?

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It might be cool to have a Marten loose in your mind doing whatever he wanted, but that wouldn't be as fun if it were Pintsize.
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"Non-compliance is a social skill"
Quote from: an unnamed minister's sermon
In your face, darkness!  We are the light and we outnumber you!

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Sorflakne

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This thread confuses me.  I thought the mark of a good story was one where the characters acted in a natural fashion and making their own way without the author trying to "nudge" them to a particular path.
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snubnose

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Well, no.

Usually the author knows exactly where its going, and only creates an illusion of everything being natural.

To be able to make the story go as it goes naturally is a certain kind of luxury professional writers usually do not have.
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Laws of sexual dynamics:
1. In a given dispute, the female is more likely to be correct.
2. If you think a girl is attracted to you, you are wrong.
Or in short: As a man, you can't win, you can't break even, and you can't quit !

Carl-E

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We'll start this with the usual disclaimer:  I am not  a writer of fiction. 

However, I've heard many, many interviews with those who are, and many (especially those who write series with recurring characters) express the fact opinion that there are times when the characters seem to take over, and the story "writes itself", or "the characters write it". 

I'd be very  hard pressed to find it, but Jeph has said some similar things over the years, in interviews and commentary on the indivdual comics. 

Yes, of course, technically the author has complete control.  But in the mind of a good author, the characters live, and often seem to have ideas of their own! 
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Zwiebel

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Well, speaking as a writer, a good character can write its own story. It can develop to the point that the writer need only let what naturally happen, happen. Most of the time you need to guide the characters down the paths you need them to go, but if you do it with too heavy a hand, it will make for a story that only reflects what the author wants (*cough*StephenieMeyer*cough*) and the story will suffer heavily for it. Sometimes you have to utterly relinquish control to see where the characters take it, and it's a rare thing that a writer can just let the story go like that. In Jeph's case, he has that opportunity and even that necessity since it is a character-driven strip and there is no one character's viewpoint we see from. Had we only seen the breakup, for example, from Dora or Marten's point of view, it would be different. Had we only seen this incident from Hanners' point of view, the same. Creating an environment where one can let the characters do their own thing, and therefore let us the readers see a variety of emotions and options regarding events, is great for a story- and Jeph luckily has the chance to do it here.
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cyro

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Err, Jeph does write much like I write ... if I write.

Not that my stories would be even remotely as good as Jephs stuff, but still.

But I also dont like knowing the end of the story when I start it. I rather see it developed naturally from the characters themselves.

See I like having the begining and ending of a story completed to start with then letting the characters make their way from A to B, if that makes sense. Sometimes they'll end up at C and I'll decide that's actually a better destination than B was, but I like to have B in mind.
Other times the car just breaks down and they have to try pushing it uphill... and I've gone way off track with this metaphor.
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Thiefree

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My friend is a writer. He's a postmodern thinker and sometimes worries that he is writing his character into existence and that one day they will become sentient and get pissed off at their creator and kill him.

Jeph is a much more grounded person than that. He sees a clear difference between reality and fiction. I foresee no existential crises in his future. Good for him.
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jwhouk

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However, I've heard many, many interviews with those who are, and many (especially those who write series with recurring characters) express the fact opinion that there are times when the characters seem to take over, and the story "writes itself", or "the characters write it".  

I'd be very  hard pressed to find it, but Jeph has said some similar things over the years, in interviews and commentary on the indivdual comics.  

Yes, of course, technically the author has complete control.  But in the mind of a good author, the characters live, and often seem to have ideas of their own!  

Consider Faye's reaction to Marty and Dora getting together.

Quote from: Jeph's Newspost
This strip is a good example of a conversation I was writing veering off in a completely different direction than I initally expected. Along with most of the rest of you guys, I was expecting Faye's initial reaction to be shock, or anger, or grief, or some other really negative emotion. But resignation? I never would have guessed it until I started writing her dialogue in panel 2 and it just appeared on screen. Then it was like a switch flipped in my head- "of course she's been expecting this to happen! She's known this was a potential consequence ever since they had The Talk!" I dunno, it makes good sense to me. Hopefully it makes sense to you too.

I feel really pretentious writing about my work like this. I don't think I'm some kind of Great Artiste or whatever, I'm just some dude who draws a comic strip on the intar wubs, you know? But sometimes when I'm writing dialogue it really does feel like it's out of my hands, that the things Marten &co. say and do are just appearing as if I weren't involved in the process at all. It's weird. I hope it makes for interesting writing, anyway.

I used to have a really clear idea of what was going to happen next in the comic. Nowadays I'm almost as much of a spectator as the rest of you. It's pretty exciting!
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tomart

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cyro, your metaphor sounds like what many authors say, and Thiefree, when I've tried to write, I get that scary feeling that my characters will hate what I do with (to) them, and There Will Be Suffering...

Thanks, jwhouk!  That was the Jeph quote I wanted to find, but couldn't - great insight into his process, and a fascinating gender difference..
« Last Edit: 06 May 2011, 20:49 by tomart »
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mbelassie

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Well, no.

Usually the author knows exactly where its going, and only creates an illusion of everything being natural.

To be able to make the story go as it goes naturally is a certain kind of luxury professional writers usually do not have.



'I start to write and have happen what would have to happen as it goes along.'
   - Ernest Hemingway
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jwhouk

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And if it works for Hemingway, it'll work for Jeph.
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"Character is what you are in the Dark." - D.L. Moody
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Life's too short to be ashamed of how you were born.
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Blyss

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I know this is probably going to sound strange, but I've never been aware of any other way to write.

Any attempt I've ever made, it felt like someone else was telling me the story, and I was just writing it down, typing it, whatever.

I don't know how else it would work, to be completely honest.
 
:|
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Carl-E

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From what I understand (I don't write stories, I'm afraid), there are writers who know the plot and outcomes of their story beforehand, having a sort of outline of the events and order in which they happen.  Mystery writers especially need this sort of construct. 

Then the rest is filling in the gaps and fleshing out the details,  But again, many of this type of author say their characters "supply" things like the dialogue! 

It's Edison's equation - invention is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration.  You see it in Jeph's work if you watch the stream - there's the 1% inspiration in what the characters will say or do, and the 99% perspiration in actually drawing them doing it! 

But if the 1% isn't there, the other 99% can be for naught. 
« Last Edit: 19 May 2011, 12:44 by Carl-E »
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DSL

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Some writers plan and outline and craft, and some, as discussed here, have an end in mind and start writing until they get there. Whichever works. I remember reading some autobiographical Asimov in which he stated that was pretty much how he approached things, and had the major parts of the story blocked out in his head. But he claimed he didn't like to waste time on outlining, then writing, because that was telling one story twice when there were so many stories to tell.
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Blyss

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because that was telling one story twice when there were so many stories to tell.

I guess this is close to my feelings on it - but in the interest of complete disclosure, I'm not sure I'm even capable of outlining a story, before sitting down to write it.  Now, this had two effects on my writing:

1 - I have no idea what is going to happen next, and when the character/s stop telling me the story, it's pretty much over - because I don't know it without them.

2 - I've become quite the grammar and spelling disciplinarian.  Self discipline, mind you.  I try not to jump on others for mistakes.  However, the one story of mine that was published, needed no editing or corrections, and the magazine editor that checked it raved about the fact that he just had to cut and paste it.  I think this is a good thing.

But yeah, outlines...  I don't even know where to start, which was a problem for some of my teachers and professors, let me tell you.
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Carl-E

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Don't tell me you never learned the trick of writing the paper first, then  outlining it? 

Just remember to turn in the outline first, then turn in the paper a week or two later. 


Worked for my daughter...
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Blyss

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Don't tell me you never learned the trick of writing the paper first, then  outlining it? 

That...  That never occurred to me.


:psyduck:
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I'll be honest... I occasionally write terrible fantasy. And when I do I just write. I find plans and ideas to be very restrictive. I also get way more attached to fictional characters than I should. I feel very protective of Marigold. JEPH IF YOU HURT HER I'LL CUT YOUR CHEST OFF.

I think Yelling Bird would approve. This worries me.
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I am a cynical optimist. I see the best in everyone but expect the worst from them. I think that everything will be fine but secretly know that one day I'll wake up and everyone will be dead.

That... did not go where I expected it to go. Um...
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