Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Character and Plot Development Through Drawing

I'm in the midst of conceptualizing two new projects and in both cases I've got a cast of characters and a general premise, but not much plot to speak of. I've done a vague outline for one project whose working title is The Door Under the Staircase (or DUS for short). It feels very thin though, and not terribly original. 

A bit of writerly advice: Never start writing your book unless you have the general plot in place first. With my first book I started with just a premise and no plot and the rough draft ended up being 1,000 pages long. 

While waiting for the rest of DUS's plot to come to me, I decided to work a bit more on my characters. I can already tell this is going to be a pretty character-driven story, and fluffing up the characters a bit in my mind should help me figure out where I want the plot to go.

So I did a rough (emphasis on the rough) sketch of two of my main characters:

This doodle is less about what the characters look like, and more about their relationship. Staring at it helps me to figure out where these two characters are at the start of the book, and where I want them to end up.

I hope some of my shitty drawings inspire you guys to sketch out your own characters. No matter what your level of artistic skill, having any visual representation of your characters can help you to flesh them out. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Short Post and a Song #70: The Glorious Smells of Brooklyn

When I went out for my morning coffee run, I overheard a group of tween girls walking ahead of me:

Girl #1: Brooklyn definitely has a smell. It smells like pee.

Girl #2: (Sniffs) I don't smell pee.

Girl #3: (Sniffs) I think it smells like Florida.

Does this mean Brooklyn smells like Florida? Or that Florida smells like pee? The girls took off walking in a different direction after that, so I guess we'll never know.


"Alive with the Glory of Love" by Say Anything

This is a great song to get you in the right mood to write a mushy, love-dovey scene. You know, the kind with kissing. Those are some of my favorite scenes to write, even if it makes me feel slightly lame to admit it. I like writing scenes with swords and kicking and punching, too, dammit.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Short Post and a Song #69: To Catch a Predator at the Brooklyn Flea

Me: I saw the weirdest buttons at the Flea today.

Daninmaniac: Buttons?

Me: Like the kind you wear? One said, "If little girls are made of sugar and spice, why do they taste like tuna?"

Dan Rather: Oh god. Oh god.

Me: I know! It was very disturbing.

Dancelot: I bet there was somebody from To Catch a Predator hiding out at that stall. And if anyone bought the button they'd be like, "Gotcha." 

I did not think to take a photo of the button, mostly because no one should ever have to see that horrible thing again, but here's another picture from the Flea:

Brookyln, where we love America in the creepiest and most random way possible.


"Moon Song" by Scarlett Johansson and Joaquin Phoenix

Her is one of my favorite films in recent times. It explores the idea of a human finding love with an operating system in a realistic and profoundly touching way. The soundtrack is fantastic, as evidenced by this sweet little tune. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Short Post and a Song #68: Someone out there thinks I'm a real comedian. ...Maybe. Probably not.

Someone recently found the blog by searching "comedian jillian on chopped." They were probably searching for information about a funny chick named Jillian who went on Chopped at some point, but I am going to pretend that the random searcher was looking for me and this post

Thank you, random searcher, for making me feel like a real comedian—even if it was just an accident.


"Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk" by Rufus Wainwright

I'm officially querying with Moorhouse and am trying to put it out of my head by doing some editing on Renaissance Lab. I got mostly good feedback on it from agents who requested it but the only people who really seemed to love it were the assistants who read through to the end, and not the agents who read just the first fifty to one hundred pages. So I'm trying to see if I can't infuse the feel of the rest of the novel into the beginning, or perhaps hack off the beginning altogether.

This song is on my Renaissance Lab playlist and it felt like a reunion of sorts when I put it on and started reading through my old pages. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Short Post and a Song #67: Profound green beans and rainforest cottage cheese.

Making dinner with Marcus Danuelson:

Penne ala Danka: What do you think about putting some maple honey mustard into the green beans almondine?

Me: I think the texture might be weird.

Flourless Danlate Cake: No, it'll be good, you'll see. (Pauses, then whispers,) This is Chopped

Me: Aarón Sánchez will be like, "Your use of the mustard with the green beans was very profound."

Chicken Dansala: Someday Aarón Sánchez is gonna be like, "The rhythm of your cream cheese was rainforest."

Me: I would love it if he eventually got so vague that he just started using random words that made no sense whatsoever.

Eggplant Danigiana: I was thinking the same thing.


"On the Bus Mall" by the Decemberists

This song always makes me sigh in a happy sort of way. It's another soundtrack song for me; it should be in the background of a group of friends driving in a convertible through beautiful scenery. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Short Post and a Song #66: One might say he was wearing a plethora of fabrics.

Dude I overheard on the subway: "Have you noticed how many different kinds of fabric I've included in my outfit today?"

I spent the rest of the ride trying to see what he was wearing. All I could spy from my vantage point was a denim jacket and leather pants.


"Repeat Stuff" by Bo Burnham

Bo Burnham is a comedian who sings and plays the piano, much like my love Tim Minchin. Except Bo is a twenty-three year old baby man who has no right to be as ridiculously talented as he is. I highly recommend checking out his entire comedy special, what.   

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Short Post and a Song #65: Pubic Garden Beach

This photo is from a trip I took to Sorrento, Italy while studying abroad in London:

Why, yes, I am in fact a twelve-year-old boy on the inside.


"Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster the People

Every time I hear this song, I always hear the lyrics as "You better run, better run, faster than my bucket." I refuse to learn the real lyrics because I don't want to say goodbye to this image in my head:

Bucket of DOOM!