Without Fear

Ryan K Lindsay – Writer

Tag: thoughtballoons

thoughtballoons Cracks Half a Decade

thoughtballoons is the writing challenge site I created 5 long years ago [LINK]

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There, we would choose a character for the week and then each write a one-page script around that character somehow. An opening splash, a dense fight scene, the penultimate page of an imagined issue. Anything was fair game, just one page, that’s all. Get in, get out.

I started this writing commune of experimentation and collegial feedback because I needed a reason to write. It was hard to find collaborators, and I think deep down I knew I was still chewing on my 10k of pages of dreck like a slab of gristle between my grinding molars. I wasn’t ready and the only way I’d get there was by working my ass off, regardless of being published or having it finished or [CHOKE-GUFFAW] getting paid.

For two years, I wrote at least one 1 page script a week. I spent time plotting it, writing, editing, and I took it seriously. I wanted to put up my best, where possible, and sometimes the deadline drew and I was typing into blogger to see what I had. It was exhilaring, and it was 104+ script pages I wouldn’t have without the site.

I am the writer I am now, 5 years later, because of thoughtballoons. I went from a guy who knew nothing and have now levelled up to a guy who knows he knows nothing. It’s a step in the right direction. I improved because I was producing, I improved because I got feedback from the other writers on the site, as well as some randoms. I improved because by offering feedback to others it got me thinking about process and craft and different four colour aspects a lot more. For those two years straight, I loved this site and the very good friends I forged within it.

But eventually I had to bow out, finding the time was hard, I had to keep pushing real comic pages out, and I know I had t go but be damned if I don’t miss it a lot. So for this anniversary week, I’ve written a text piece about what thoughtballoons meant to me [LINK] and then I try a one pager for a subject I missed in the past 3 years, which is the brilliant D4VE [LINK] – and it’s funny, my script isn’t perfect, but it’s a start. You always have to start somewhere.

I cannot stress enough if you are looking to break into comics as a writer, and you need the practise, and trust me you do need the practise, then you should hit thoughtballoons up. It was something really special for me and I love seeing it bounce through the lives of others.

Also, if you are an artist looking for practise, find some scripts here and have a lash. I guarantee the writer won’t mind if you run it past them. Have fun.

Write, feedback, enjoy, repeat – thoughtballoons [LINK]

thoughtballoons Turns 4

Four years ago I created a site, a place for comic writers to go and just write one page of script a week on a decided character/theme. Yes, the concept is completely stolen from ComicTwart, and such, but instead of having rad art, it had scripts. Text heavy, wordy, non-arted scripts.

And today, thoughtballoons turns 4!

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I thought this site up and figured it would be fun. Above all else, I built this because I wanted to do it. I wrangled in a few mates to join me and so each and every week we wrote our scripts, and critiqued each other, and bonded, and got better, and experimented. It truly was a glorious time to live and learn. For the first two straight years, I didn’t miss a week. But then I got busy, well, kinda busy, and I found the one page script a week was either going to take up too much time/headspace, or they were going to start sucking. So I bowed out early in that third year and I know it was the right thing to do but I miss the site and the challenge and the team a lot.

In my two+ years running the site, I forged friendships in steel, I figured out my writing strengths and weaknesses (and I worked on improving both), and I see that I did what the site was intended for – I grew and I enjoyed it. From the site, I really got to know Ben Rosenthal and now we table next to each other at many Aussie cons. I met Dan Hill in the comments section and now he’s a first reader on nearly all my stuff and he’s the editor on HEADSPACE, my Monkeybrain book. I also met Grant McLaughlin somewhere in the mix and we’ve subsequently shared a bed – true fact. The site was a breeding ground for much of who I am today as a writer.

If you want to watch me grow, and stumble, and try, and enjoy every word – scope my thoughtballoons archive here (though skip the first few at the top, the team decided to write scripts ABOUT me so those aren’t mine, though I wish a few were, bloody good they are).

While looking at the site, and realising 4 years has passed since I thought it up and slapped it together and started hacking my words on there, I started going through my scripts and I came across my final few and realised I didn’t immediately hate myself.

Iron Man’s Armour – we had to write about the central item of Stark Tech and I write a page where Iron Fist chi-powers an Iron Man gauntlet. Not gonna lie, I still wanna read this in a Marvel comic, hot damn.

Captain America’s Shield – a small moment as a page where a fellow soldier realises Cap is reading something on the back of the shield right before battle. I’d still use this idea today if I got to write a Cap short.

Mjolnir – I posit an equal and opposite hammer, and then put it into Jane Foster’s hands in order to kill Thor. This page was just damn fun to write.

Hulk – I take the phrase ‘Hulk smash!’ and make it feel really nasty and problematic in a way I’ve not thought of/about before or since.

I link to these scripts not just to brag – 1) it’s my site, let me brag, 2) there are plenty of flaws, so little to brag about – but I want to show just how much fun it is to write a one page script each week. You get to play with characters and ideas just for the fun of it. I know I don’t get to do that like this anywhere as often nowadays, and reading these scripts makes me smile and realise sometimes the words can just be fun, and sometimes you can try different things, and sometimes you will have huge and insane and awesome ideas. Look above, a fanboy Iron Fist moment, a sombre Cap piece, an almost cheesy old school Mjolnir moment, and a downright horrific Hulk page. Each week I was flexing all kinds of muscles. There is definite power in that for every writer. And those were just my last handful of scripts. I have my absolute favourites from history – if you come across my X-Men page then you’ll see something I think I did very well (and no, I won’t link to it, I can’t do everything for you). I just recently took one page and pillaged it for an upcoming pitch. Everything old is new again.

I’d suggest, if you are a process hound, or someone looking to hone their craft, check the site out. Damn, there must be about a thousand pages of script on there so far, wow. You should scope the site, pluck the lessons from the corners in which they hide, and if you want to play along at home then each week when a character/theme is picked they write a Why post – throw a one page script there and have it in the world, have it real, and maybe have it critiqued by some other people who might just be your best friends and strongest allies in a few years time.

Also, artists, looking for sequentials to draw? Well, damn, I just found you hundreds of pages on all sorts of different characters from Indy to Batman to Buffy to the Pet Avengers. Enjoy.

As for me, I’ll just sit and reflect that something I started 4 years ago, and abandoned nearly two years ago, still lives on and thrives and provides those lessons and fun for others like it did for me. I have to admit, that’s really humbling and intergalactic levels of cool.

thoughtballoons – because I wanted to be a better writer and have fun and found a way to do both over time. I hope you have or find your thoughtballoons.


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