aliwilgus: (Default)
When reviewing a finished draft, I've always put a big emphasis on reading it as quickly as possible, in nice large chunks rather than bits and pieces. When you're writing a thing, you're focused on the minutia of your snail-paced slog through every scene, and so I want to see how the completed story flows as a whole. Do I repeat phrases or emotional beats too often? Does the plot make sense? Does the narrative arc feel satisfying? Is it a STORY or just a series of things happening?

But recently, as I'm nudging the last few bits and pieces of the script for Chronin Volume 2 into place, I've been thinking a lot about the small stuff, too -- the details which are easy to forget about when you're worried if your protagonist's Big Plan makes any sense or if readers will like the romances you've ended up with.

I'm thumbnailing the book right now, in which I draw scratchy stick-figury blueprints of how the final pages might look. It's slow going, so I'm once again experiencing the story in much smaller slices. And I'm using this as an opportunity to think about people instead of plot; to consider character moments instead of narrative momentum.

Here are some questions I might ask myself as I go through a scene:

- What are the characters thinking about RIGHT NOW? How do they feel? Are they worried? Excited? Angry? Why? Is there something they want to be doing, but can't? Is there something they know they have to do soon, but so far they're putting it off?

- (For when a character enters a scene who's been off the page for a while) When did these people last see each other? How did they leave things? How have their situations changed in the time since? Is there an imbalance of information -- has one of them learned something vital that the other doesn't yet understand? Have they missed each other? Were they worried?

- What do each of these people THINK is going on inside the head of the other? Are they correct? If they're wrong, why is that? Do either of them realize that there's been a misunderstanding? Do either of them CARE? If they disagree, is one of them going to try and convince the other to change their mind? Why or why not?

- When was the last time these people ate or drank? When was the last time they slept? What have they been doing, physically, for the past few hours or days? Have they walked a long distance, or lifted something heavy, or been in a fight, or gotten soaking wet, or slept on the ground? Are their clothes comfortable? Are they dressed for the weather? Are they used to this kind of weather? Are they used to this level of physical activity? Are they hungry? If so, how does being hungry make them feel?

- If you asked everyone in this room to describe each other person in one sentence, what would they say? Whose answers would be similar, and why? Whose answers would be different? Would those answers change over the course of the story? Why? How?

- Based on the information they currently have access to, what do these people THINK is happening right now? What are they expecting to happen today, or tomorrow, or next week? How is that impacting their plans, or their conversations with each other? How useful are their plans going to be, given what you the writer KNOW is about to happen?

- Who does each person in this room currently consider to be their closest friends? How has that changed since the beginning of the story? How is that going to change before it ends?

- And seriously, your own feelings about it aside, for serious who wants to kiss who? WHY do they want to? Why is each person attracted to each other person whom you, the author, have romantic designs for? Are those reasons emerging organically from the story? Do you feel like you have to push them together, or is there a sort of narrative gravity between them?

I could go on about this basically infinitely! People are complicated, and so of course, characters are also complicated. I won't pretend that I run deliberately through a list like this for every single scene, but these questions are always in the back of my mind. And when I feel like something isn't quite working, or feels too easy, or too hard, I use these questions to help tease out where the problem is.

At this particular moment, though, the problem is super clear: I'm writing this LJ post instead of working on my thumbnails.
aliwilgus: (Default)
After a long cold discouraging winter, there've been some new developments on my end -- which is great! And QUITE WELCOME, as wow did the back half of 2014 and the first few months of the New Year really put me through the wringer.

Looks like one of my Actually Getting Paid For This comics projects will be announced June-ish, which I'm very excited about. And in the meantime, I have some new work online, and some older work that's been significantly improved upon.

First off, I added color to one of the short comics I drew last year -- Pilgrimage, an SF story set on Mars. You can read it on my website if you're interested, and you can pick up a paper copy if that's more you're style.

I also had a couple of prose stories published! Noise Pollution, about cassette tape magic and literal battle hymns in the East Village, went up on Strange Horizons a couple of weeks ago. And The Last Wild Place, a story about very VERY old frenemies sorting out their damage on the pre-renovation High Line, was reprinted on Fantastic Stories of the Imagination.

I have some thoughts about both these stories! )

FINALLY: as a part of that effort to be more mindful of the good things in my life, I've decided to start collecting the handful of reviews and other articles that people have posted about my work, which I'll update from time to time. It will probably be of interest only to me, but that's okay -- I get self-conscious about this stuff anyway!
aliwilgus: (Default)
I've been spending much more of my time in the prose fiction community in the past six months or so, and it has been a strange experience. If nothing else, it's given me a much greater appreciation for how comfortable I've become in comics. As much as I worry about how best to promote my work, whether I'm a good fit for this Comic Arts Fest or another, how to manage the various stresses and responsibilities of my paying comics work, which publishers to approach with new projects and whether I'd be better off just posting them as webcomics...a LOT of things. I worry about so many things! But I never worry about whether or not I understand the landscape I'm navigating, or whether I belong here at all. I'm anxious about chatting to strangers at the SPX afterparty, but I always have a group of friends I can go chill with in the corner if (when) I chicken out. I haven't made as much progress with my career as I'd like, but I've been around long enough that I can make professional chitchat when needed.

But prose! PROSE!

Lucky me, between my connections with Clarion West and friends' connections with Viable Paradise -- two genre writing workshops, if you aren't familiar -- when I go to a SF/F convention I'm likely to know at least a handful of people there. But what to SAY? People always ask what I've done, and I end up just talking about my work in comics. This isn't entirely bad, as at least it helps me stand out. But it can also make me feel a little like a Curiosity, as opposed to an up-and-coming peer. I have a couple of "pro" publication credits now, at least, which will help with the small talk. But culturally I still barely know what I'm doing.

Writing this now, ugh, it's hard to even explain! I guess it's a little like the difference between how I feel on the New York subway system, as opposed to ridding the Tube in London. They're both pubtrans, and I'm perfectly capable of navigating the latter when I need to. But what are the norms? How much am I allowed to talk on the Tube? Is it okay to ask directions when I'm turned around? How much am I sticking out, and is it a problem? In New York, where I've lived for fifteen years, I get grumpy and frustrated and sometimes I get on the N instead of the D and end up down in Bay Ridge like an idiot. But I'm comfortable on the subway. I know how I fit into that particular system, even when it's being shitty. On the Tube? Every decision is something to worry about, regardless of how smoothly the trip is actually going.

So far, my trip through Prose is going about as smoothly as I could hope for. But boy, could I use some directions. And I sure do hope that I'm on the right train.


Jan. 1st, 2015 02:37 pm
aliwilgus: (Default)
(Just a place for me to keep track of the reviews and articles that folks have written about my work.)

|||| Reviews ||||

:: For Noise Pollution ::

Charles Payseur, on Nerds of a Feather
With a wry punch and a fast pace and a smooth finish, "Noise Pollution" by Allison Wilgus is a golden IPA, just a little brash and bitter but with a taste that makes it incredibly fun and drinkable.

Charles Payseur, on Quick Sip Reviews
It's a great story, fast and with a flow that just made me smile, that, like a song, pumped me up and got me nodding right along. It's just so much fun, and has the benefit of being filled with interesting ideas and strong images.

K. Tempest Bradford, on io9
The battle to keep noise at bay is a lot of fun to imagine, and I’m so down with the world Wilgus has created where musical folk must sing and create music to help people, cure disease, and keep chaotic noise away. More than that, I adore the narrator’s voice. It’s strong and grabby and amazing.

Bob Blough, on Tangent
The setting is not new but the atmosphere is clearly and well created. The characters, although again not terribly original, are drawn very well. As a first sale, this is an evocative piece of writing.

:: For King Tide ::

Joshua Berlow, on Tangent
It’s a soft-spoken story with little overt conflict. Nostalgia for drier days pervades the piece. Scientists warn us that global warming and rising sea levels will transform New York City. This story is a quiet snapshot of what we may expect.

Charlie Jane Anders, on io9
Brooklyn is a trendy place to live right now — but what about after the ocean level rises and the ocean floods in? In the new story "King Tide" by Alison Wilgus over in Vice's science fiction magazine Terraform, we get a sad, contemplative look at a flooded New York.

:: For A Stray in the Woods ::

Alex Thomas, on Pipedream Comics
It’s a brilliantly original piece of story-telling that makes for a really fascinating story, however this collected edition does have a slightly disjointed feeling – but that is to be expected considering the source material and is part of the charm. Although the story is unlike anything else, the true stand out for the book is Wilgus’s simple yet stylish artwork.

Nick Montfort, on Post Position
Perhaps I’ve been primed for this, but I thought the book’s presenation of this rather elaborate process was effective. I thought at first that page numbers would help, but perhaps these might have suggested a CYOA-style book, which this is not. While decisionmaking by mob is not always best, and can rule out nuanced plans, it works well enough in this case.

Little Willow, on GuysLitWire
Well, I read the entire thing in one fell swoop and I can tell you: Very cool. The pictures truly tell a story, with the text explaining all that needs to be explained.

|||| Interviews ||||

with Frank Duran, Real Books Don't Have Batman - 11/18/2013 (video)
with Zack Smith, Newsarama - 8/26/2013
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