Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Hi there,

This week, I’ve been fiddling around with Kittl, a graphic design website that’s a bit like Canva, but for logos and lettermarks. I’m not sure that this is the final logo, but it’s a start. We’ll see how it evolves as I get to know what Kittl can do and play around with more of its templates. (Though I must not let playing with logos distract from editing!)

Stop, look listen: Scriptnotes Episode 554 – Getting the Gang Back Together

I know it seems like I recommend a Scriptnotes episode every other week, but that’s because it’s such a good podcast – if you haven’t already, then you should just cut out the middlewoman and subscribe now.

Episode 554 is all about how characters interact. For me, the most interesting segment is on character relationships. John August and Craig Mazinmake the point that characters on their own just aren’t all that interesting – it’s their relationships that we care about. Woody is boring without Buzz. Shrek is just an ogre without Fiona (and, arguably, Donkey).

A lot of fiction advice focuses on character arcs: how an individual develops over the course of a film or series, how they learn and grow, and what they change into. But character relationship arcs are much more important and a much richer source of drama and, indeed, comedy.

How people get on or fall out is what makes a story compelling, not just in fiction but in our real lives. When was the last time you heard someone with a bit of gossip about how a colleague’s character had developed, as opposed to how their relationship with someone else had changed? Gossip is all about relationships and so are the best stories.

Indeed, I can’t help thinking about Apple+’s The Essex Serpent, which really isn’t all that concerned with the titular sea serpent, but about the development of Will and Cora’s relationship. The mysterious serpent is merely an excuse to throw Will and Cora together so we can see what happens between them.

I’ve listened to this Scriptnotes episode twice now, and it’s made think that I need to pay a lot more attention to relationships. Not only do I need to reread my script much more closely to see how well I’m developing relationships, I also need a Character Relationships section in my Show Bible. If I’m aiming for that depth and richness that good TV shows have, I have to make sure that my relationships are compelling.

Is 1,000 True Fans possible?

Back in 2008, Kevin Kelly suggested that a creative person could make a decent, independent living if they could jut reach 1,000 ‘True Fans’. That prediction never really came to pass, not least because back in the Noughties it was quite hard to take payments from lots of different people, even with PayPal. For many, the 1,000 True Fans theory has long since died a death.

When we look at really successful creative online projects, it seems like they are always run by people who already have huge followings. Whilst no one expected Brandon Sanderson to raise $41,754,153 for his recent four-novel Kickstarter project, there was no real doubt that someone with hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers could raise a decent amount of coin. But for most of us, Kickstarter isn’t a reliable way to make a living.

But could the 1,000 True Fans theory still turn out to be, well, true? Times have changed since 2008 and Cal Newport, writing in The New Yorker, provides several examples of how creative people and teams can make a comfortable living by finding and serving a committed community. It’s an attractive proposition and one I’d love to explore.

This newsletter is still in its baby stages, and if I do ever launch a premium service it will be in addition to this regular email. But I’d love to know what sort of things would be interesting enough to pay for. In depth written profiles of writers, agent, publishers and actors? A podcast? A serialised email version of my pandemic novel? What tickles your fancy? Reply and let me know!

Read this: WattPad launches new scheme to pay authors

WattPad is launching a new program that could see some writers earning up to $25,000 (~£20,800) from a pot of $2.6 million, if they publish their work exclusively on the platform. According to Variety, “More than 500 writers will be eligible for the cash stipends, the first time Wattpad is paying creators in this way. In addition, participants will be eligible for marketing and editorial support and sponsored brand partnerships.”

This is good news for authors who have already built an audience on WattPad already or who are writing in the genres that are popular there.

Tweet of the week

Please enjoy these words of wisdom from Gabino Iglesias:

Monthly reminder: Many people have a book in them, but it takes a special kind of freak to leave the Land of Laziness, cross the Plains of Procrastination and Insecurity Mountain, find the Blade of No One Made You Do This, and use it to cut your chest open and yank that book out.

Obligatory cat photo

Summer in the Midwest often got toasty, with temperatures sometimes going up to 35C and beyond, but we never really noticed it because we had aircon units in the windows and inside was always fairly cool. It would have to get really hot before we felt uncomfortable.

As I write this, however, we’ve reached 31C here in Reading and there’s no aircon to be had. Even if there was, energy costs are so high I wouldn’t put it on. So please enjoy Copurrnicus and his fluffy pantaloons, melting.

All the best,


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