reading OUTSIDE your genre for your muse.

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reading OUTSIDE your genre for your muse.

Postby Jin-roh on Wed Nov 11, 2009 8:50 am

One of my favorite authors, Terry Pratchett, said that to be a good writer you must read extensively outside and inside your genre. I think this is very good advice.

Now, our genre is webcomics, and I know we all probably read eachothers and our own non comic genesis favorites, but what about outside our genres? Here's some some random things that were useful to me.

Pretty much anything on eZine. Ezine is place where people publish their articles for free and then advertised whatever product/service they have. I have found that the sections on both selling and romance provide and endless supply of ideas. It is not hard for me to say, "one of my characters might do that."

Various Podcasts. My comic centers on religion, so I listen to a lot of preachers/teachers. I try to challenge myself to listen to guys that I don't agree with or like (I have a degree in Theology), because it provides great foil for either the beliefs of my characters or just plain old satire fodder. Mark Driscoll is getting spoofed in my comic in January.

Blogs. Blogs. Blogs. I think I have gotten at least three or four good ideas from reading random blogs on the internet. I am becoming far less discriminating it what I put on my list to read.

What random, non-comic related, literture has given any of you guys good ideas?
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Re: reading OUTSIDE your genre for your muse.

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Wed Nov 11, 2009 9:53 am

I don't get to read as often as I'd like to.

Stephen King makes me want to stop sucking, and makes me also want to add in a few horror storylines because ... yeah.

I haven't done it in a while but I like to peruse TVTropes for ideas. Usually I don't find something I directly want to write about, but it gets my brain working and eventually I come to something useful.

Reading reviews of other people's comics. I know it probably counts as still being in the genre, but I still find it helpful to see what works for other people, what should be avoided, and how if possible I could implement such things in my own work.

And along with the above, the FanFicRants community on livejournal. I don't even READ fanfiction, nor do I write it, but I fucking love reading that community.

No joke, I read the dictionary. Not only does it help me build my vocabulary, but sometimes I'll hit on a word that just starts the creative cogs a-churnin', and can end up leading to a whole new plot line.

Also my older work, both drawn and in plain old written story form. It's all stuff I know I'll never publish or do anything with, so there's no harm done pulling out my better ideas to implant them in current projects.

I'm VeryCuddlyCornpone, and this has been your unintentionally long post of the day.
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Re: reading OUTSIDE your genre for your muse.

Postby Alias Pseudonym on Wed Nov 11, 2009 12:04 pm

No, webcomic is our medium. My genre is a mixture of drama and pretty much everything else, the chapter I'm doing now is drama and horror.
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Re: reading OUTSIDE your genre for your muse.

Postby Jin-roh on Wed Nov 11, 2009 12:44 pm

That makes sense, actually.

I think that makes most of the comics I read "outside my genre" too then. I read only one college life/religion type comic and the two others are fantasy.

Now that I think about it, I could probably stand to read more comics.
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Re: reading OUTSIDE your genre for your muse.

Postby Charlos777 on Wed Nov 11, 2009 3:20 pm

I don't think many of the web comics I read are in the same genre as the one I make/made >.< I tend to read a lot of story driven stuff, which has been playing a role in my rethinking of my comic. I wanna still go for my absurd humor, but I also want some stories which are strongly character driven.
As for stuff that is outside of my Medium...TV. I watch way too much TV it rots my brain to just the proper level of goofiness. I don't read so much these days. I used to be a big fan of the horror suspense genre and still like it, but never get around to reading. HP Lovecraft is awesome and so is Bram Stoker's Dracula(not the cruddy movie with Keanu Reeves. I mean I even hated Anthony Hopkins in that movie!)
I've always been open to new genres and find that the ideas some contain can prove rather inspiring.

Holy Corn...sorry to out rant you Verycuddlycorpone >.< I now yield the floor.
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Re: reading OUTSIDE your genre for your muse.

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Wed Nov 11, 2009 8:32 pm

Charlos777 wrote:IHoly Corn...sorry to out rant you Verycuddlycorpone >.< I now yield the floor.

Haha, you're welcome to it. It was one of those posts where I was like "Hmm I think I only have a sentence or two to say on this topic" and then I wind up making thesis statements and conclusions and leaving a works cited.





I should be writing an essay now actually, it's due in like twelve hours


ETA: Awww I missed my 400th post. I should go away for a while, I've only been here for like three days.
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Re: reading OUTSIDE your genre for your muse.

Postby Jin-roh on Wed Nov 11, 2009 10:36 pm

Ahhh very cuddly... a last minute paper..

Why not read "7 Habits of Highly effective people" for your next "outside of genre" reading?

Yes, I am being tongue and cheek, but that book is actually really good. Helped me navigate around relationship blunders this last summer.
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Re: reading OUTSIDE your genre for your muse.

Postby Charlos777 on Thu Nov 12, 2009 11:15 am

Last minute papers suck! Do what I do in those instances.
Step1 properly format your paper. Make it look pretty.
Step2 Print out the paper on watermarked 100% cotton fiber paper. Give it a nice report cover.
Step3 Bribe your teacher. This step works especially well for Political Science and Business Majors.
On the topic of genres I actually have been thinking as to how I would classify my comics. Only thing that ever seems to pop into me noggin is "theater of the absurd." I'm not even sure if that is right, but it sure does sound cool. This would mean that the vast majority of my reading is from outside my genre, but those other genres are making me consider adding more dramatic elements to my work. However, I do not want to merely emulate the characteristics of other genres, but most genres have those similar qualities. Gah I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT I'm trying to say. Rant over.

Works Cited

G, Chuck. "Me Me Me." The big book of ideas I actually came up with. Chuck Publishing. SLC, UT. 2009.
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Re: reading OUTSIDE your genre for your muse.

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Thu Nov 12, 2009 11:27 am

Bro, bro, bro, you underestimate me. I got that sucker done with time to go back to bed for another two and a half hours this morning :D It helps when you are blessed, or perhaps I should say cursed in some instances, with a form of writing which tends to often transform, particularly when writing in an analytical fashion about a topic which you actually do in fact find mildly into what is known as "sesquipedalian loquaciousness"


I just overtalk, basically.

Jin-roh wrote:Helped me navigate around relationship blunders this last summer.


Jiiiiin-rohhhhhh, and his relationship blunderrrrrs, he avoids themmmm by reading booooooks

I just made that into the greatest song that you will never hear :shifty:

ETA: I'm not even really sure what genre my comic qualifies as. Historical slice of life maybe? Pretty narrow genre, it seems. Unfortunately for me all the other historical comics I've looked at are really fucking good. I guess that's because the amoutn of research you have to do pretty much cements the thought "Hey you author thing you need to pay attention" and weeds out those who don't care enough to put a lot of effort in.

Mmmmm more rambling about nothinggggg
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Re: reading OUTSIDE your genre for your muse.

Postby DalekBob on Sat Dec 31, 2011 5:25 pm

My advice? Hit the library. First, the place has pretty much everything you could want to draw reference from. Writing from just about every genre you could hope to find and unlike most DVD chains and book stores the range is not dictated by mass taste and recent trends as there's less pressure to make a profit so you have a more unusual and eclectic range of films and books, giving you a varied and untapped source of inspiration than you would elsewhere. One thing I did find especially useful was access to the biographies and history books.

It may not seem to be the most obvious source of inspiration, but when it comes to building up character backstories or worlds as it gives you vast scope on real life events and experiences, often written first hand by people who went through them, helping you to appreciate them both the individual context of their lives and the greater context of history as well as determining realistic responses to the events you write.

While first hand expreiences and interviews are always a great way to go, budget and practicality limit how much you can do and and more importantly they are limited by your own personal expreince which may not be especially useful if you're writing a story that's far removed from what you're used to expereincing.* Even if you don't directly use them as inspiration it helps to get your imagination in gear and your mind ready.

Oh, and the best thing of all? As a great man once said, 'They're cheap.'

Sorry if I came of as preachy, you have my full permission to funk my head down the lavy if I boerd you.


*That's just my way of saying I'm to socially awkward to approach people about these subjects and too lazy to socialize.
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Re: reading OUTSIDE your genre for your muse.

Postby That guy on Mon Jan 23, 2012 9:02 am

Jin-roh wrote:Now, our genre is webcomics, and I know we all probably read eachothers and our own non comic genesis favorites, but what about outside our genres?

Alias Pseudonym wrote:No, webcomic is our medium. My genre is a mixture of drama and pretty much everything else, the chapter I'm doing now is drama and horror.


I agree. Suggesting webcomics are our genre is akin to suggesting books are Terry Pratchett's genre. They are our medium. That said -- comics have the unique function of being both a literary art form and a graphic art form. Your writing would benefit from reading outside your genre and also outside of the conventions of comic formatted writing. Your art, similarly, can benefit from viewing a wide array of art styles. By appreciating how a subtle watercolor artist achieves blends, a stark noir-style inker can broaden their range. By watching how a filmmaker sets up a shot, a sequential artist can become more dynamic in their framing. The same is true in education - for example, studies reveal kids who take music classes are better at math.

Jin-roh's message is a good one -- no matter what medium you're working in, your brain is the primary tool at your disposal. The more you put on that palette, the better the results will be.
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Re: reading OUTSIDE your genre for your muse.

Postby McDuffies on Mon Jan 23, 2012 10:15 am

I've always wondered about the exact definition. Wikipedia doesn't say anything against genre being defined by medium by which it's carried. My intuitive idea of it has always been that genre can be defined by any unifying characteristics - theme (sf), mood (horror, elegy), recurring motive (road-movie), intended effect on audience (comedy, horror), belonging to a trend (torture-porn) or movement (surrealism), land of origin (krautrock, J-pop)... as long as there is enough examples to make making a genre worthwhile, but not too much or too diversified to make genre category muddled.
So when people complain that manga is not a genre but a style, a school, or simply a cover-all term for japanese comics, it's not irregular to point out that all of those can actually be defining characteristics of a genre... and whether it's a genre or not is actually defined by how much of it is out there and how diverse it is (which, addmitedly, there is).
One thing on which we can all agree with Jin-roh is that making webcomics based on only ever reading webcomics (or only ever reading comics) is a surefire way to make bad, derivative, shallow comics... but then again, who in history ever only read webcomics? Even if you've never read a book in your life (and we're all nerds, so no) you've surely seen a film or two.
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Re: reading OUTSIDE your genre for your muse.

Postby That guy on Mon Jan 23, 2012 1:24 pm

McDuffies wrote: My intuitive idea of it has always been that genre can be defined by any unifying characteristics...


You are correct. Nonetheless, I choose to disagree on principal. :P Genre is very loosely defined, and you could lump all sequential art -- or even all art -- into one genre, and prose in another. The reason I find it worthwhile to discriminate genre and medium is that thinking of comics as all the same kind of reading is why for so many decades comic books were relegated to the kiddie table, and even the most accomplished authors have been impugned for their medium, in spite of the wide variety of genres within that medium.

In 1991, for example, Neil Gaiman's Sandman #19 won the World Fantasy Award -- and elitists were outraged that a comic book should even be eligable. Ignoring the fact that it fits the GENRE, and is a legitimate mode of storytelling, it's MEDIUM made people biased. (To their credit -- and contrary to rumors -- the WFA did not alter the rules after that, and comics are still eligable, although none have won since.)

That's why I think it's worth classifying web comic as medium or format, and leaving genre to denote content & tone.
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Re: reading OUTSIDE your genre for your muse.

Postby McDuffies on Tue Jan 24, 2012 6:46 am

I think it's too narrow. I think genres are a matter of zeitgeist. When there's enough works of similar type, public intuitively puts them all in one folder and adopts the name for it. Some of them are ridiculous ('canuck-rock'? what the hell?) but eh... denying that something commonly accepted as genre isn't actually a genre is not dissimilar to those critics who always make up new genre titles in hope that one of them will catch on and they'll be a footnote in books. I may think that, say, animation is a medium and not a genre, but thousands of video club catalogues argue against me. And then if someone wants to rent a film, he might think "I feel like animation today", cause animated films are still a subsection of film and not a completely different medium.

I don't think that webcomics are commonly thought of as a genre though. Well, I don't think webcomics are commonly thought of. Most people who haven't read them aren't aware that there are common characteristics to webcomics, and will think that they're all just ripoffs of printed comics, and thus aren't a different genre. As for those thay are exposed to webcomics a little, majority of most visible comics do belong to that kind of part-newspaper gag comic, part-autobiographical, part-improvisational adventure comics, which are probably the most visible original invention of webcomics (though I prefere those that are more influenced by indy). This may be why someone might conclude that all webcomics belong to one genre.

I don't think Gaiman was slighted because it was thought he didn't belong to the sf genre. It is my understanding that was because literary sf community was an insulated, irrationally snobbish club that still thought comics were for children.
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