A Little Something to Think About

Things I'd like to note:

To be certain is to be sure. To be a curtain, you hang in front of a window so nobody can peek in.
Their stupid. Their stupid what?
I before E except after C. Unless it's weird. Or your neighbor.
Lay down the bed and lie on top of it.
'Lot' is a noun. People seem to forget that a lot.
Can you use the bathroom? Then perhaps you may.
The farther you go, the further you are.
It's wrong to get its abbreviation wrong.
The past has passed.
It was better than that way back then.
You threw it through the window.
Contemplate on whether the weather is spelt that way.
Who's worried whose isn't right?
You're sure your getting it right?
Be sure that I accept nothing except proper word use.

Then again, I didn't even spell Phoenix properly when I made my name. Well, oh well.

A Manga How-to Guide

So far, everything's been mostly about writing stories and such. Now it's time for some tips about manga! First of all, you can't really pull off a good manga until you learn to draw. I've looked at some different styles, and here are some thing I believe mangakas should practice drawing to get a better look to their pages.

Number 1: Profiles
Like it or not, people are NOT 2-D--unless they're stick figures, like the ones I draw on MSPaint. Practice drawing heads from different angles, especially from the side, as well as even from above or below. Actually, profiles can be drawn almost the same way that heads facing forward are, with what is pretty much just half of the chin plus the nose, stuck to the side of the face. The lips and eye can be tricky, of course, but try not to indent TOO far--it only makes the head look like a bean. Or maybe an eggplant. Your pick.

Number 2: Emotions
Unless the character is as emotionless as Raggy Anne the rag doll--or Sesshomaru from Inuyasha--you need to be able to convey a characters thoughts and feelings. Draw about a million heads, and then try different expressions on them. The shown expression can change with simply the cock of an eyebrow, the wrinkling of a brow, the height and arc and tilt of a mouth, the sparkle in their eye, the amount the eyes are open (like they could be squinting or winking), or even if their nose is wrinkled. Sweatdrops and popping veins help a little bit, but on their own they don't work so well. Sometimes, though, when a character is being evil-ish, or is incredibly sad or depressed or shocked or whatever, you can darken the top of their head, about all the way down to their nose. The mouth and any extras (the sweatdrops and such) will convey what the feelings is that isn't shown in their shadowed eyes. Also, sometimes artists use this so the reader feels that they can't properly show the emotion, because it's so intense.

Number 3: Hands
Normal human fingers, unfortunately, are not pointy. They are round, and split into 3 sections, except for the thumb, which has only two. While my dad put a very horrid technique in my head that'd I'd rather not remember and would definitely rather not share, another way is to try sketching circular segments to be the segments of your fingers, ataching them end to end, being careful that they're proportionate with that finger as well as the ones next to it. That way, they can bend at what will hopefully be a more natural angle, and won't look like claws. Otherwise, just practice--maybe even try to come up with your own style. If sharp fingers work for you, though, then by all means, stick to it (sometimes the effect actually makes it look better, but it depends on how the rest of the art is, usually).

Number 4: Proportions
A hand should not, I repeat, should NOT be smaller than an eye. Most body parts can be measured by other body parts. Did you know that if you had a third hand, you could just barely wrap your fingers, touching, around you neck. You're also about 10 times as high as the length of your feet, and your arm span, from fingertip to fingertip, is the same measurement as your height. Your middle finger and thumb can almost circumnavigate your wrist, as well. Keeping these in mind, try drawing two of each thing next to each other for practice. Trust me, I botch up proportions a lot, and it makes the characters look like they have a birth defect.

Number 5: Movement
Movement is harder to draw than it first looks. Study what other artists do, and/or try out your own ideas. Patches of smoke with speed lines running off of the page or panel work sometimes when there's meant to be a chibi or a Saturday-cartoon effect of a fast get-away, and arched lines can show the swiveling of a head or body. Experiment, and see what looks good. Also, a character's pose can also suggest movement. You can show them skidding to a hasty stop, or laughing their butt off, or springing for an attack, even without extra lines. This, at least for me, can be a little tricky, but that's why we practice.

Number 6: Speech Bubbles
'Speech Bubbles' includes thought bubbles and narrator notes and the like. A circle or oval is fairly easy, but then there's the fact that it also has to fit some writing in it, and has to point to the mouth of whomever is speaking. I usually draw a rough circle-oval shape and leave it blank until the page is finished, then add the stem and fill in what it says. With thought bubbles, it's a little more tricky. Actually, you can make thought bubbles just like speech bubbles, only instead of a stem you use increasingly decreasingly-sized bubbles leading to the thinking character's person. As for the cloud type, it has a malleable rim (since it's not a perfectly round circle) and so can be tricky for blancing it out to make it look good. So, draw a circle slightly smaller than how far you want the rim to be, then create arcs off of the curved sides all the way around until you reach that point again. The result should be a more or less neater appearance. Same thing goes with shouts, though with those you can even place them over or beneath whatever you want, including other speech bubbles. Just don't cover up TOO much. As for narrator boxes, those are easy--a square or rectangle is more easily drawn than a perfectly round circle or oval--but it only works if it's a square or rectangle and NOTHING ELSE. Just because all of it's sides are perpengicular to the two other sides it's attached to doesn't mean it works--it just looks odd. Make the rectangle big enough or put it somewhere else, but don't just add a growth off of the side if one written part goes too far to the side. It looks unprofessional. You can, howeer, attach boxes together at the corner or top an bottom or whatnot, as long as each has it's own complete thought that does run right into the other one it's connected to. It doesn't look neat that way, just a race for space.

There are also some elements I feel should have some notice:

If you can't read your comic/manga properly unless there are arrows present between panels, you have a problem. A page should be set up so that the reader can tell almost without thinking what to read first, then second, then third. Tell on the side somewhere on the first page which way you're supposed to read the manga--left to right or right to left. And make sure YOU know which way, too. It can only get confusing if it seems to switch. Then again, if your layout's good, maybe one can tell which way to read simply by looking at it. Like with the first page of Alice 19th, start everything in the upper corner on the starting side and go from there, descending down below and then over, so you know that that's how it's going to be, since that's the way the first page led you.

If you're one of those artists who loves to put in fillers, it's a rather bad idea to just slap them in at the very center of the story line. Put them in between scenes, or chapters--when a new chapter begins, you can put one both before and after the chapter title page. As a reader myself, I understand nothing is as irritating as having been rapt up in the storyline to suddenly have it cut into by a character or two in a certain pose and/or suit. A good picture, for sure, but really, I'm trying to READ. I get the same feeling when my brother tries to talk to me when I'm reading a book. It gets me irriatable in a very dangerous way...

Some people use photoshop or some such when they do their pictures. First off, this can very easily be overdone. Not EVERYTHING needs to have textures or patterns; if it's one solid color, KEEP IT one solid color. I don't know about you, but MY walls don't have Tie-Dye splotches of white on some other color, nor my shirts or pants, except for the ones that are, well, Tie-Dye. Sure, if it's just empty space behind the characters, go ahead, get funky, and no one can say no to a little wallpaper, but sometimes it doesn't really help. Not to mention that it makes everything distracting, plus sometimes it blends in. Sometimes, all I can really notice at first is a person's shirt and the wall behind them, since they contrast, and my eyes skip right over their pants. I always have to double-check, to make sure they actually have them.

First, only attempt a contest if a lot of people read your manga. Second, once again, don't start one smack dab in a chapter's center. You can use it as a transitional post,to go from one setting to another, or can announce it around the chapter title page. I don't think anyone will be interested in a contest as much if they have to remember it's there as they read on past it, trying to get back to the story so they don't forget what the page before had said.

You can't start drawing a character named XX (insert proper noun) who is an XX (insert profession) who XXs (insert verb) and can talk to XXs (insert noun). That's only a character. In a manga, that character needs to be put into a story to be of any use. Which also means the making of other characters for them to interact with, as well. What is their goal? Is there an antagonist? How do they end up getting involved? Answer these questions in your story by drawing it out!

So there it is, what I believe is what you should keep an eye on when making a manga, or at least in my opinion. Actually, I probably covered everything there IS when you're making a manga. Or close to it. Since, well, you should work on all of it, anyway. They are the elements that I believe influence the quality of a manga. Then again, I've seen a few that lack in more than half of these qualities that are fantastic to read, thanks to their artist's ideas or humor or story, and that's always something to think of, too--these elements are useless unless there's a good mind to use them. Either way, it's your choice to listen to me or not; hopefully you will at least try some of these techniques.

And hopefully you will see this all as constructive critism, and not a big insult. Because I don't want to be running form pitchfork-wielding mangaka after my life for critisizing their work.

Have a good day--and while you're at it, put that pitchfork down...thanks.

P.S. If you want to be a part of the Writers' Block writers and help other artists with their works, please contact me so you can be made a Guest Poster and a member of the site. We (I) would be grateful to have you!

Destroying Writers' Block

Alright, we all have it at one point in time or another, with an empty page in front of us and our minds all blotted out. What can you do to destroy this wall we call writers' black?

Well, obviously, I plan on answering this question.

While this would be more effective with leisure writing, who knows when else it could be helpful, so try keeping what I tell you in mind.

Personally, writers' block comes about biweekly or perhaps even more often than that. These are tips that help me get over this more than half the time:

1: Read a book.
A book is the creation of someone who at one point was doing what you're doing--writing a story. This, though, is beside the point; when you read, you collect ideas that can go into your story, but be warned! Of course you can't repeat the whole story, or its subject to being sued! Duh! In which case, you think of different plot twists, maybe even add some things together from completely different stories.

2: Draw a picture of the scene.
Some writers' block happens when you don't know how to get the scene to keep going or whatever. In drawing it, even if you're bad a drawing, you can better picture the situation, and sometimes you can get ideas from what you may randomly add/find in your art, or maybe from the facial expressions that you may, accidentily or not, put upon a person's face.

3: Act it out.
This can be done with a friend or sibming, if they're cooperative in the making of your production, but it can also be don alone. If you act out the siuation, then you canfigure out by the progression of the scene what can be added and even some things that can be improved.

4: Ask for advice.
Ideas can come from the most random of people from the most random of places in the most bizarre forms (or even some normal ones!). Ask a random person a random question and see where it takes you; or, if it's someone who's read your story while it was in the process of creation, you could just ask them straight out what they have as an idea, or maybe just ask for their prediction so you can build toward or around their thoughts and ideas.

5: Think about daily life.
Situations in any story don't have to be all made up--actually, that can be pretty bad/boing if there's a little too much, unless the genre of the story is supposed to flow tht way. Some stories though need something like a real-life situation to bring them back down to earth. To enhance your thoughts you can even write a small memoir, or a collection of 'Snap Shots' from your past, and then see what you come up with!

6: Use personal interests.
If it interests you, it's bound to interest some one else, too. Don't be shy to put yourself in your writing just a little bit.

7: Take a break.
Non-stop writing leads to a dull brain. Try doodling, reading, or doing an outdoor activity, even if you're too lazy--you definitely won't regret it!

It's a bit of a list, but hopefully it will be a useful one the next time you run into writers' block. You can bet your britches (heh, another lame line in my arsenal) that more hints and tips will be on here to help you with the writing of your story/stories!

(Note: Whenever I refer to 'stories' I'm including mangas and such as well, I just don'twant to say both all the time.)

Tips On Creating A Good Story/Manga

Alrighty, by reading the title, you can probably tell what this is all about.

Here's a list of questions you should answer before starting out with a story of your own:

  • Do you like it enough to stick with it?
  • Is there a moral at the end of your story?
  • What will be the point of view?
  • What is the conflict? Will it keep the reader hooked (is it intruging?)

The first thing you need to keep in mind before making a story, whether it be for a manga or for a book: Do you like it enough to stick with it? If you can't say you do, you'll never get anything done. Try to think of something that you ABSOLUTELY LOVE, whether that is dragons or other fantasy creatures, magic, school stories, making people laugh (comedies), adventures, mysteries, romance, anything at all. Go ahead, even make a character out of a purple dinosaur. Put yourself in the characters' shoes; maybe then you might get into it a bit more.

Next: Is there a moral at the end? Alot of people write to teach other people something, or get an idea into there heads about something else, or help them understand a feeling or whatever. Not every story has a moral, but they can make a book more interesting (this isn't usually used in mangas). Even if the reader doesn't learn anything, maybe a character in the story itself will learn it.

Do you know your point of view? Are you looking from just the main character's perspective? Are you omnipresent, or viewing several things at different times?
Or just simply looking through the main character's mind, only showing the main characters thoughts? This can make or break a good story. Omnipresent views can give away too much information too early, spoiling everything else unless you're extra careful. Some authors switch the point of view from chapter to chapter, looking through a different character's eyes each time, getting a different look at the story, usually picking up where the last character left off, or a bit before. In a manga, you can simply show only one person's thoughts through one chapter, then anothers in the next. Or you could just show any and all (make sure the readers can tell who's thinking what, though--it can be a disaster if you don't make it clear enough!)

Another thing you need to remember: if your plot is boring, your conflict dull, your work will loose its quality. So what if the characters are funny and/or adventurous? If there isn't a conflict, it'll just go downhill. Make the character(s) take a trip to the moon. How will they get back? Are they searching for something? Is someone trying to win someone's heart? Is the character trying to get over an old pain, an old fear? Do they have to defeat one person or another? Is there a mystery to solve? Once you know the conflict, all it takes is a little creative brainstorming to come up with how it comes to be! Or maybe it doesn't! That's how sequals come to be...!

Of course, there are many other questions one should ask themself when creating a story, but these are the first few. Remember, these are important, so keep them in mind! They are the stepping stones to becoming a good writer, or good mangaka, or whatever you're shooting for!

And finally, the second animusic on the sight! (see the welcome post for the first!