It’s one thing to envision a zombie story. It’s another thing to write a story in somebody else’s zombie world. There are certain sets of rules you must adhere to. Once you get those down, you’re free to come into your own and really play freely. But, despite having a handle on the rules, different people have different sensibilities.
An outline is an essential part of storytelling. It gives the writer a skeleton to refer back to, or a road map to show them where they are headed. It’s not meant to be finite, but rather serves as a fluid basis for storytelling.
When I first submitted my outline to Double Take the immediate feedback was that I packed far too much into one issue. We had agreed on the basic backbone of my story before they saw the outline, but I had a few surprises up my sleeve. Maybe too many zombies, but that’s another story.
It took a few days for me to get feedback on my outline. It was definitely packed with a few surprises for the editorial team of Bill Jemas, and Michael Coast. But after a weekend had passed and I hadn’t heard anything I get a call from Bill out of the blue. He’s had some vague ideas about where to take the story – and the one detail which I had anticipated the most struggle – well that was taken without issue.
The feedback I received on my outline was:
Description/photo ref etc.
People don’t look like what they do
Clothes I want to wear, places I want to be, things I want to do.
Remember I said vague? Well these notes were illuminated on a follow up call. The first note is rather easy. Double Take requires photo reference for certain sequences in the book, if not all of them. It was something that they found helpful in giving the artist something to draw. I didn’t have an issue with this, but rather included too few photo references. They were pretty content on having photos for every step of the story.
As for the people don’t look like what they do – I have a character in my story who’s very nature is a little difficult to describe without giving spoilers. What I can say, is that this character’s nature was more than revealed in their appearance in my outline. They wanted a little more subtlety and arguably a more tangible element of reality to this character. We workshopped a couple things on the phone and rested on a powerful combination of Anton Chigurh and Brienne of Tarth… seriously. This character is my absolute favorite of the story.
The third note is a follow up on the others. Double Take wanted me to visually define the character with as much detail as I could. I’m used to working rather closely with artists to refine a look of a character but here – at least so far – I don’t have the fluid communication with the artist. I was instructed to leave as much on the page as possible.
So the outline had some pacing issues for the folks at Double Take. Namely it was moving too fast for what they anticipated. I didn’t spend enough time lingering in the smaller moments. We eventually found a very awesome compromise – one that extended the length of the story and expanded the world, stakes, and character motivations in very real and awesome ways.
To find out just how we did that, you’ll have to wait until Monday where I’ll talk about how we blocked out the opening scene of my book. Which also has a fancy new title: “Race: Brother’s Keeper” #1.
This Zomblog will run every Monday and Friday until I run out of things to say about zombies. Next time – blocking out action sequences with zombie shuffling.
Until then check out Double Take’s blog – Double Take Universe to keep up to date on the incredible comics that will be coming your way in September. And head over to their Kickstarter to secure yourself the full ten launch issues. Which just went over 10k and has only a few days left to go! So please get out there and support good comics!