Process, Schmacess! Exploring Native Lands

KuppsHEADSHOT-2So the other day I was reading the first issue of a new comic book title–I can’t tell you which one since, like too many new comic book titles these days, it was another one of those  derivative post-apocalyptic concepts wrapped up in some flimsy new dressing that slips off my brain almost as soon as I’ve read it. Try to read it. Anyway, I got to the end of the issue (perseverance!) and found that the story was followed by several pages of text by the writer explaining the where and how of the creation of this piece of work.

You’ve read a hundred of them if you’ve read one: “It was a dark and stormy night when, like a thunderbolt, an image came to me. I didn’t know what that image meant until, days later I was talking to Sam Artist or Ann Editor and happened to mention it. They gasped. They cried. They genuflected. Didn’t I know what I had here? Well, let me tell you…!”

Okay, I admit, I’ve written my fair share of these “process pieces” over the years, but in my defense, I wrote ‘em for the bucks. At DC Comics, we got paid for writing text pages and, for a new series, it was either write some sort of blather about how it had come to be or forgo a couple hundred bucks for what was, essentially, a couple hours work. After a book was up and running and receiving mail from readers, it got even easier. Retype some letters, write some snappy responses, turn in your voucher. (And once OCR technology became affordable for the home user, it was just free freakin’ money.)

But, as I started reading this particular process piece, I realized how much I didn’t care. And not only because the series itself had fallen flat for me. It was because I shouldn’t have to care.

Whether the series worked for me or not, I shouldn’t need a two thousand word essay to tell me what I had just read. By coincidence–or, what on the internet would be called “irony”–a few hours prior to sitting down to write this process piece on why process pieces are unnecessary, I read Joss (The Avengers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, et al) Whedon’s “Top 10 Writing Tips,” which includes this:

7. Track the Audience Mood

You have one goal: to connect with your audience. Therefore, you must track what your audience is feeling at all times. One of the biggest problems I face when watching other people’s movies is I’ll say, ‘This part confuses me’, or whatever, and they’ll say, ‘What I’m intending to say is this’, and they’ll go on about their intentions. None of this has anything to do with my experience as an audience member. (emphasis mine) Think in terms of what audiences think. They go to the theatre, and they either notice that their butts are numb, or they don’t. If you’re doing your job right, they don’t.”

Well, damn. When you put it that way…

Bob Greenberger, Aaron Rosenberg, and I created the ReDeus Universe and we, and a whole bunch of other writers, wrote a whole bunch of stories set in it. Read them. If we’ve done our jobs right, your butts are going to feel just great.

What else do you need to know?

ReDeus: Native Lands will be available in print and digital editions in August.

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