Switchin’ It Up

Hey everyone, Flobo here!

If you’ve been following my blog (almost three years here at WordPress, 12 years if you count my now defunct LiveJournal) you’d know that I’m a writer. Am I famous? No. Do I have legions of fans? I’m not sure, but if I do I haven’t been made aware of them. Although, that would be a cool conceit to a short story: Writer thinking no one is reading his stuff but has a massive fan club unbeknownst to him.

Anyway, today I want to talk about Switchin’ It Up (aka the title of today’s blog)

When I was an avid fan of the competition show “American Idol,” I would watch week to week as singing hopefuls would try their chance at stardom. Randy Jackson, one of the judges at the time, said something that really sticks with me: “If you’re a great singer, you can sing (dramatic pause) anything.” It was so simple, but it’s a phrase I took to heart.

Being able to write anything is a something that I strive to do. Now obviously, there is going to be varying degrees of success. Me writing a romance novel would seem as out of place as Garth Brooks covering N.W.A., but the idea of doing something so far out of your comfort zone shouldn’t be automatically intimidating.

Sure my ever-gestating novel is still in the works, but on the side I’m realizing my dream of writing a comic book (an adaptation of the short story, “The Indelible Silverstreek“). I say it’s a dream because I realized I wrote it on not one, but two of my “Bucket Lists.” Comics are a different medium altogether from prose (obviously) and it brings some quirks that I’m tackling head on. In fact, it has a lot more in common with screenwriting. There is an emphasis on “showing” rather than “telling” and there’s even less room for dialog to be stilted. Why do you ask? Well my theory is, seeing a real person on the page (or screen) automatically puts our brain on high alert for dialog that doesn’t “ring true.” For example, I’ve read lines of dialog in novels that explicitly says how a character is feeling:

“Johnny, I’m scared. Don’t go.”

But if a line like that is uttered on screen or seen on a visual page, I find myself going:

“Who the hell talks like that?”

It’s a quirk. Also, as our former disparate forms of entertainment begin to converge, it’s a quirk I see less and less often these days. When I was a kid, they called it being a part of the “MTV Generation.” Now, I guess Google is to blame.

In any event, I urge all of you who create to try something else. Tackle another genre if you tend to only write in a few. If you only write radio plays, take a stab a poetry. If you’re a poet, why not try your hand at non-fiction? Learning about the mechanics of each genre or medium can only strengthen your skills and sharpen your instincts. Give it a whirl.

As for me, I’m so excited that I’m potentially able to cross something off of my list!

 

–F

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