Throw It All Into The Pot Until You Have Jam

by ryankl

An artist I’ve been wanting to collaborate with for ages recently hit me up about doing so. We’ve been dancing for a while, slow old white man shuffling (maybe with me throwing in some of Elaine’s kicks) but now we’re grabbing hold tight and making some moves.
But, I had nothing in the chamber. I’ve got some pitch ideas being saved for…something. I just knocked another one-shot up a gear with a new artist. I actually just recently got into a space where all projects were kind of looking snug, at least for the time being. So we are chatting but I don’t have a thing to just whip out. Which is weird. I’m used to having a thing in my back pocket, all ready, to just conveniently display and from there it’s easy.
So, I just started chatting with him. What genres would he want to do? What do I think he’d be killer at? What could we make work? Real loose stuff. Reeeaaal loose stuff. Like “Action, yeah, crime, cool.” Loose. Well, not that loose, but loose. You dig?
And again, I can’t stress this enough, but I nearly always have something sitting around ready to sling. I’m never caught out without some ideas. And I haven’t done the whole “What story would you want to draw?” type question before because I can’t be certain I can yield a good story from that. Story, for me, can sometimes take time, so I like to preplan.
So we had our chat and I left to allow percolation to occur. I then promptly passed out at my desk with FEAR AGENT HC VOL 2 in my lap. A sure sign I was overtired.
Somewhere between sleep, being woken up to French toast and coffee, and driving to work, a few of the genres started to mash up. An idea bubbled, a character was trapped in that bubble.
The day might have looked like me teaching and being social to people but really I was just hacking away at the forest of story to find the one strong oak on which I could hang my hopes.
Tonight, in the living room while emailing and prepping an ep of ORPHAN BLACK, then at the desk, and then in the baby’s room with her on the shoulder going back to sleep and me pacing in pitch darkness, it all came together.
My mind is a bower bird and throughout the day it collected strands of things and by the time night came, I was ready to build with the assembled accoutrements.
The outcome: a one-shot with a character, a location, a world with a history behind it, a small supporting cast, a major conflict, an (I hope) interesting resolution, and an overall theme to the story. I never work like this but this has worked. Here’s why.
The Artist – I dig his style, so I broke story down through the lens of him. This helped refine story ideas, beats, paths.
Just Jam, Man – it was us just throwing genres and silly words and ideas out. My brain picked out the best and made them work. I have my storybreaking ways – questions I ask myself (and ask the characters) but that’s another post. For now, the tip is – just throw stuff to the wall, see what sticks. In this case, it started with two key words. Two words and I dreamt a world.
Here’s hoping we can build it. Stay tuned.

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