Objectively creative is the idea of being able to honestly look at your creation, be it a comic book, a game, a script, anything you are creating on your own and putting it to the test to see if it is ‘good’ or not.
This is Dwayne, a freelance artist from North Carolina United States, specialized in concept art and illustration. For the past few months I have been working on a personal project that I plan to launch in a few months. In the course of doing this I have come across the idea of objectively creative.
What is that?
Objectively creative is the idea of being able to honestly look at your creation, be it a comic book, a game, a script, anything you are creating on your own and putting it to the test to see if it is ‘good’ or not. Now, what is ‘good’ is highly subjective and we all know, what is one man’s trash is another’s treasure, but I have found there are a few questions you can ask yourself as you move forward with you idea to see if you are blind to its flaws.
1: Does the story matter to you?
This boils down to passion. If you are creating a story, does the story matter to you? Do you have a great idea about a kid who plays basketball and dreams of going pro? But you hate sports, never actually watched more than 20 minutes of basketball in your life and if pressed couldn’t name 5 NBA players outside of Michael Jordan? Then maybe this is not the right story for you.
Far too often we as creators are struck with a really great idea, but it is not ‘in your wheel house’, but because the idea feels like a good idea, we try it. Very quickly we find we are not enjoying it, we are just going through the motions and in a few weeks or months we hate the project and it begins to suffer until you just stop.
JUST BECASUE IT’S A GOOD IDEA, DOESN’T MEAN YOU SHOULD TELL IT.
That said, maybe you can find a way to make it work. Maybe he wants to be a pro because it was a promise he made to his dying grandfather. Then it becomes less a basketball story and more of a family drama or personal growth story. If that is more your thing you can make it work. Just make sure the story matters to YOU.
2: Is it YOUR story or your VERSION of another story?
Far too often we see this. You are a fan of Batman (for example) and you have this GREAT idea, what if Batman sold his soul on the night his family died to be a hero and became Batman, a man who is part bat, and to become a hero the devil unleashed a bunch of villains. You think this is a GREAT hook. But, you know DC would never allow you to do this to their character, so you change a few names and bam, creator owned!
But be honest, is this your idea, or your version of their idea? Sure, the hook may be cool, but if people WANT Batman, they will buy Batman, not a version of Batman.
While it is true that there are few wholly original ideas out there, it is the job of the creator to be original as you CAN BE. If you can look at your story and HONESTLY drop another pre-existing character into the role and nothing need change, then the story needs to change.
Sure, you can start with an idea from an existing thing, but then, turn it on its head. I had the thought one day, “Batman wears his suit to scare the bad guys. But, outside of the petty criminal, none of the bad guys seem scared, at least not enough to stop. Even the Penguin is not scared enough to give up his umbrella. WHAT IF… there was a hero that was so brutal and scary that bad guys WERE scared of him? What if he has the power level of Superman and the morals of the Punisher? What if there was a hero that would kill a bad guy on sight, because anyone willing to dress up and wreck havoc on the world is probably not going to change his ways after a stint in prison. Odds are, the bad guys would team up. They would not worry too much about their crimes but be more interesting in killing the hero. And I think telling the story from the bad guy’s pov would be better because then the hero would be more like Jaws. This scary killer that just shows up out of nowhere to kill you.
While this idea started on Batman, it became something very different. And you drop Batman into the main role, he would have to be radically changed.
3: Be honest, is it interesting?
Look at the whole package, the characters, the story, the theme, the tropes, the pacing, the way in which you plan to release it, everything, and ask, is it interesting? If there is any part that is not, get rid of it. Even if you love that part. Lose it or change it. If there is a few things that are not interesting, maybe the story is not for you or just not that good. Maybe you just had a cool hook but the story around it falls apart. Scrap it and start over.
4: Not JUST for your eyes.
This is a big one, don’t create in a vacuum. It is far too easy to work on an idea and be sure it is perfect. You are so close to it; so much of it is perfect in your head, that you can’t see the flaws. Have a few people you can go to who will be honest with you, who understand the genre and medium you are working in, who understand story and ask for their feedback. Agree that they are to pull NO punches. They are to tell you straight out, if something is wrong and why.
This is invaluable. You must have a fresh pair of eyes on what you are doing so you can see if it works for the world, or just for you.
5: Is there a market?
This is the tough one. Is there a market? Is there a group of people who will part with their time and or money for this idea?
Sure, there IS a market of pretty much everything. SOMEONE will love your idea. But is there enough? If there are 3 people who LOVE your idea and that is it, is that enough? Maybe for you it is. But if you want this to become something that you can sustain for a while, even grow into a business; you MUST have a decent sized market.
Horror is one of the biggest markets out there. So you may think your story about a zombie that learns to play the flute and finds it mellows him out and he can live on just raw beef as he tries to become a respected star will be welcomed with open arms. But, that is not horror. Sure, you have a zombie, but the STORY is about someone who struggles to fit into a world they are not a part of but uses his gift to pave the way. That is not horror and horror fans won’t really flock to it. Sure, some will. But most won’t. Just as fans of the indy world who LOVE this type of story may be turned off by the zombie lead. So a few horror fans and a few indy fans may love it. Odds are it finding a huge market will be hard.
But if you target, you WANT the horror fans, then amp up the horror. Find a way to make it market friendly. It is SO important to know WHO you want your audience to be. And sell to them. Yes, you CAN sell to two or more sections, but you have to make sure each section feels as if what they are looking for is met. So really seek to know what they want and find a way to make your work something they HAVE to have.
So now, look at your work and ask, is it objectively original? If it is, then start building that audience!
Now go create.
Dwayne is a comic book artist working for Avatar Press comics and freelance artist from North Carolina United States, specialize in concept art and illustration.
reach him at: http://artofdwayne.wordpress.com/