An ode to Drafts

So Drafts is an app for iOS. It’s in my dock on both my iPhone and iPad.

The simplest explanation for what it is, and does, is that it’s both a scratchpad and container for text.

Every time you open Drafts you’re faced with a new, blank page and a blinking cursor. It does this extremely quickly so it’s excellent for those flashes of inspiration.

However, the real attraction of this app kicks in after you’ve entered the text.

From this point Draft plugs into various apps and services so you can then send the text to where it’s needed. Examples

  • You could tweet whatever you just wrote.

  • Post the text as a Facebook status

  • Create or add to an existing note/document in Evernote or Google Drive

  • Add it to a Todo list

  • Add it to a calendar

  • Send the text in an SMS or email

  • Send the text to Dropbox in the form of a new .txt file or by appending/prepending it to an existing one.

The possibilities are almost endless.

I use it pretty much every day.

Plaintext and Zero Drafts

Doubling up because I forgot to press ‘post’ yesterday.

In Zero Draft phase of something at the moment. It’s mostly a weird hybrid of me writing out a messy draft longhand then dictating it into a .txt file in Textedit or Byword.

I use Fountain when I do it. Fountain is a markup language that formats after the fact. Basically, when you’re writing, it allows you to do just that and not have to worry about things like formatting and whether the document/filetype will be readable. Fountain and plaintext are future proof.

I switch back when doing later drafts to regular old GoogleDocs/LibreOffice. But when you’re screaming through it, you don’t need formatting.

That shit slows you down.

Folding Narrative

Taking a thing that used to be a proposed mini and turning it into what amounts to a one shot. Taking another thing that started off life as a short and turning it into a one shot too.

There are a lot of one shots in my future, I guess.

Any story can be condensed or lengthened. It’s like a concertina with various elements being either folded in on themselves so they become background or disappear, or they become larger, parts of the tapestry and landscape.

The trick is to know when you’re doing it at the cost of quality.

It’s all shading.

Cost

Lately I’ve had to sacrifice going out, buying nice things and other assorted bric a brac because of #makecomics.

I’ve always worked on shorts before. I value the experience and toolset such work gave me, and I’m proud of what I’ve done in that regard. Even the first steps, the first work that’s the equivalent of looking at a photo from yesteryear and realising that, yeah, dying your hair black seemed like a sound decision once upon a time.

But sooner or later, you have to step beyond that and get out of the ruts you’ve made for yourself.

Anyway, point is that now I’m pouring time and money into getting something more substantial made. It’s a one shot. It’ll be black and white. And Andrew is killing it on art.

Regardless of when and how this thing lands, it’s a large step in what comes next and a move into new territory creatively speaking.

And that shit is priceless.

What’s my arc?

I’ve not long read this interview with Writer/Director Dan Gilroy about his new movie, Nightcrawler.

This part stood out:

“There’s no character arc! When I started to write the character I realized, “this guy isn’t going to change.” Every film you’re commissioned to write is all about an arc; usually the arc is that the world creates a change in the character, usually for the better. To not have an arc, the messages and ideas in the film became more prominent. The character is plowing through boundaries, and keeps going. So the boundaries become very clear, the things he’s crossing. And the focus on it is the world bending morally to what he’s doing. At the end, allowing him to succeed at what he has done, and celebrating his success. Raising questions: what does it say about us that we allow something like this to happen? It opened a lot of doors that a traditional arc doesn’t.”

The only other example I could think of, off the top of my head is Alien. The sequels forego this lack of arc, but the original? None.

Every book on writing tends to hammer home the importance of an arc or growth, but is it really needed?

My Read Pile

Prompted by this post here over at Ryan Lindsay’s blog I took a look at my pull list. It was good in that it made me really look at the list and analyse whether I still enjoyed the title or whether I was just getting it out of habit. So, as it stands I cut about 4 or 5 titles off a list that wasn’t super long to begin with.

So here’s my mainstays and some reasoning behind why they’re there.

Private Eye

It’s consistently great, and it’s incredibly useful to read from a craft perspective. BKV and Marcos Martin have a plan. There’s a sense of building/rising momentum with the story the last few issues. Learning the series is finite makes me have faith this is going to be something worth following. Saga gets the plaudits and the rewards, but if I’m honest I enjoy this title more.

Hawkeye/Sex Criminals/Satellite Sam

My Fraction fix. Do I really have to explain either of these? Pushing the envelope in terms of storytelling and character work month in month out. Read Satellite Sam #1 and look at it purely from the perspective of what it does with the time and cutting. That’s one issue out of this triumvirate of titles. These are comics that keep on giving.

Moon Knight (Ellis run)

I’m still on the fence about where this title is going now Ellis has left. But when he on board this was a staple. I think done in one issues are an art unto themselves. Ellis pulled it off with aplomb, ably assisted by Shelvey and Bellaire. More great comics to pick apart and study.

Black Science

Because I truly don’t know where Remender is steering this ship. That’s a rare thing in any storytelling medium, never mind comics.

Pop

Because Curt’s comics are always ones that stick in my head long after I’ve put them down. Because Jason Copland doing a sixteen panel page is a glorious thing.

Zero

I love war comics. I love fiction that engages with the myriad of human behaviour and emotions that operate in and around war and conflict. Zero is the best war comic being published right now. This is a comic about a life soaked in conflict and trauma.

Sam Alden’s comics

After Haunter, I’ll read anything Sam produces.

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There are my mainstays at the moment. There are other titles in there, but they’re either too early in their run to call, or on some kind of hiatus.