I am not a writer. But that doesn't mean I don't have stories to tell. I think visually and oftentimes what helps me the most in drawing my characters is thinking up a story for them. I have one bad habit, though: I have a tendency to keep adding more and more characters until the next thing I know is that I'm overwhelmed by everything and don't know where to start. Then the project gets put on hold. And lingers, unfinished.
I decided to create a story based on a single word: "hi." I wanted this word to be expressive, showing a range of emotion and to allow me to use my love of typography as part of the illustration as well as the writing. I wrote no other words--writing is scary. Instead I created a character who was created by me being silly: While driving mountain passes with my husband we would often pass people bicycling. I would point them out to my husband, but "bicyclists" does not roll off the tongue smoothly. "Basilisk" flows a bit smoother. I kept saying it. "Bicyclists, basilisk." Without realizing it, I had created my character.
What do basilisks do? Turn people into stone. How does he make friends? He doesn't. Unless...
I had a story.
I sat down and started to draw, giving myself a hard deadline for completion. After a bit of a piecemeal process of creating these characters, I digitally composited them into a comic format, creating my very first finished story. Its a little clunky, it needs some help, and maybe some more details, but it's more than I had a month ago.
Later this week, a good friend who has worked in animation is going to help me pick apart this comic and offer suggestions for ways to turn this into a better story. A 10-minute talk already helped me think about things with a new light. Not everyone knows mythological characters as well as I apparently do, so I may need to add additional textual queues. But that won't be writing, that will be editing. After all, writing is scary.
Things will change. I'm sure I will get frustrated along the way and want to give up. But I see potential, if I take it slowly. It will be just like designing a book cover: set up comps, elicit feedback, revise, put it away for a bit, come back to it, scratch plan A and go to plan B, elicit feedback, revise until it's final. I can do that.