(soon to be) looking to commission artists

I’ve had a crazy idea for a bit now, to hire commissions from a bunch of different artists for some characters for a young adult steampunk adventure novel I’m writing. (Yes, it’s The Artificer’s Angels.)

Here are the details.

  • There are seven major characters in all– five men, two women. They range from the ages of fifteen-ish to mid-fifties. Here’s a quick preview of the lot.
    • The farm girl. Merrily Soarin is cheerful, upright, and has a mean left hook. She’s nineteen years old, black, and her nappy hair’s getting clumpy.
    • The engineer. Paul Soarin is serious, often uncomfortable, and desperate to prove himself to the upper circles. He’s thirty-two, Merrily’s brother, also black, head nearly shaved, thin. He also becomes a bit wild by the end of the book.
    • The hacker. Polly Owens was a promising inventor before she was kicked out of the university. Now she smokes a lot of opium, she wears shocking clothes, gears and tools sewn to her skirts (in case she ever needs one), and does mechanical under-the-table deals. Mid-twenties, brown eyes, straight brown hair, and she dresses in ways specifically designed to make her victorian-esc neighbors uncomfortable (classic steampunk).
    • The mad scientist. Maxwell Gallows is in his mid-fifties, wears lots of black, and would probably have taken over the world had he cared for anything in it. He’s stick-thin, gaunt in the face, and his black hair stands out. Usually accompanied by a black hat and a heavy cane.
    • The boy. Leo Gallows is sweet, gentle, desperately shy, and part machine, though the only real indicator of this on the outside are his glowing, artificial teal eyes. His hair is platinum blond, but it’s the style to dye hair wild colors and saturate it with gel, and his ends are blue-green and stand up in spikes. Every so often, though, he does show signs of his father’s inventor-traits running through him.
    • The intellectual thief. Abraham Gennyson has the nasty habit of stealing invention ideas that don’t belong to him. Getting near sixty– he’s not horribly fat, but he has a gut, his hair is long and brown and silver, he wears nice clothes and looks the part of the overweight Victorian business man.
    • The trickster. Uriel is also a reworked dead man, and he very much intends to keep his life and his freedom, both of which are at risk. He will kill, steal, lie, and con his way out of his bad situation– anything to get himself free. And he’s pretty good at it. Six-five (two full meters) tall, broad shouldered, strong featured, tan, with artificial red eyes and a wild red-and-black haircut. He appears to be in his late-twenties.
  • I would write a more detailed description of each character, then two or three scenes with them in it, to give a better idea of what they’re like. I’ll also write a bit about the novel.
  • The commissions would go to a variety of artists– one character per commission. I’d love to see a range of skills, styles, and takes.
  • When I have a good collection of characters by a variety of people, I’ll make a collage for each character.

That’s the preliminary details. Anyone interested, and if so, in anyone in particular? And does anyone want to point to artists seeking commissions?

in which i attain an illustrator

That was easy.

Have I ever mentioned that my mother is a professional artist?

I mentioned that I wanted Victorian-style pen and ink illustrations for my novel to my mother; she mostly does a lot of still life and landscape. She got very excited when I described the sort of things I wanted– cloth bows, still life with wine, a top hat and gloves, birds’ nests between the junction of steel beams. She’s not a fantasy fan, but then, I’m not much interested in fantasy illustrations.

(Though the giant mechanical crab might be nice.)

silly children– pictures are for grown-ups!

You know what novels ought to have?

Pictures.

Not just illustrated children’s books. Novels. Adult novels. Preferably excellent old fashioned black and white penmanship in fine crosshatching. Illustrate a lantern, a snowy countryside, a lady’s dress, a tapestry. Something related to the story, but not the scenes itself, which might intrude into a reader’s sense of visualization. Scatter where appropriate.

Why isn’t this done in the publishing industry?

the golden ratio (for writing!)

What is the golden ratio?

The golden ratio is a pattern found in nature, a proportion that is found aesthetically pleasing to the eye. To put it very, very simply, it’s a ratio of 1:1.618 (the latter number is an irrational number called phi, but let’s skip the math). You find this proportion everywhere, the human body, seashells, architecture, web design, music, even.

I’ve mentioned before my suspicion that the golden ratio could be applied to writing composition; now, I’ve found a way to apply it to plot. I’ve made a small, simple javascript function that takes in the intended word count length of your project, the number of major events in your novel, and plots out where they should occur by the golden ratio. Since WordPress is silly and won’t let me add raw javascript to my blog directly, I’ve added it to my (yet unfinished) website.

The Golden Ratio, for writing

For instance, NaNoWriMo is coming up. This is the output for three events in a 50,000 word book:

0 words – The Beginning
22360 words – Event 1
36179 words – Event 2
44720 words – Event 3
50000 words – The End

So according to the golden mean, my first big event should happen around the 22,360 word mark, my second around 36k.

This is purely theoretical, but from what I’ve seen of it, the numbers look like they’d do for a nice composition. Take a look, and tell me what you think!

old art, from ‘the artificer’s angels’

Sortof like the scrap I found not long ago, I came some of my old ‘Artificer’s Angels’ art in a packed notebook. Some of these were neat enough to share. 🙂

Who doesn’t love airships?

Air ships and gliders!

My heroine’s family is mostly dark skinned; her second-eldest brother has a polished version of this tattooed over his heart in white ink.

Matthew's Tattoo

Violetta (pencil)

A color image of the last one:

Violetta

And finally… that old digital painting of my villain. Or, one of the stories’ three villains. I think Uriel has the purest motivation of the lot, yet he’s still somehow the most evil.

Uriel (recolored)

writing the second draft

I had a request to share how I went about writing the second draft of my novel. As a disclaimer, this is just how I did it; I’m certain that others try different methods that work well for them.

My first draft was written during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month— I highly recommend participating) last November, 50,000 words in one month. It took another week after November to finally finish it, which brought it up to approximately 52,000 words. As expected of a NaNo novel, it had several major problems.

First, there was the pacing. I was writing furiously for four weeks to produce volume, not good craftsmanship. My first test reader said that the book felt like it needed to be about twice as long, which I agreed with. The city was an undefined blur, the castle equally nondescript. My prose rambled, got distracted, changed ideas halfway through sentences.

Some of the characters were very fleshed out. Others were flat and uninteresting. My two protagonists, Rylan and Wyrren, were not very consistent. My villains showed up when inconvenient for my heroes, the characters were sidetracked at several points. Some characters I had decided would be important, but seemed to decline their part in my plot.

And speaking of plot… the entire middle of my story sagged terribly. I had the ending I wanted, the beginning I wanted, and I got to keep my tiger-fight… and yes, I could see what I was going for in that first draft. It was also an unholy mess.

Now, I’m a terrible critic. I’ve been spoiled by literature, and I’ve read too many good books to be impressed by mediocre work. This might even be the reason that I’m so hesitant to start reading something new… I have a fear of being let down by a book, as if they were a new friend that I was entrusting myself to. When I read a book or watch a movie, I ask myself things like, “If I had written this passage, would I be satisfied with it?”

I also have an excellent memory for words on paper. I can still quote poems that I memorized twelve years ago, regardless of length. So I don’t forget the things I write in a hurry.

In January, I read over a few pieces of my printed first draft, put it away, and began writing the second draft. From scratch. No references, no list of absolutely required scenes. After the second chapter, I felt that I needed to be reminded of where I was going. Instead of going back to the first draft, I wrote a detailed outline of the book and kept going.

To those of you who practice art, I compare the first draft to a thumbnail sketch. It’s enough to let you know what you’re going for. But if you draw from the sketch, you’re just going to get a bigger sketch. Best to have worked out your thoughts ahead of time and begin fresh, looking forward to other references other than old, and quick, work. I can say that my second draft is far superior to the first in every way, but still not perfect.

That’s what the third draft is for.

elizawyatt.net

Over the weekend, I’ve revamped my home page.

It’s been long overdue. I still need to put in some of my new art (most of what I have there in my galleries are from 2006) and I need to change the confirmation page on the email form (it’s on a wonky default format), but otherwise I’m pretty happy with it.

Most notably, I now have a mailing list! Anyone who would like to be notified about my novel without wanting to bother listening to me ramble in my blog can go to http://elizawyatt.net, enter in their email address, and will be noted when it’s ready for pre-order.

In other news, World Building Month is officially over. I’m halfway done with compiling the last showcase, and I apologize that I haven’t been around this last week. I’m currently about 92,000 words into my book, halfway through the last chapter. Writing the last twenty percent, I’ve heard, is harder than the previous eighty, and they’re right. Now that I’ve slogged through it, I think that writing a last chapter is comparable to climbing up a wall by one’s fingernails. Isn’t writing glamorous?

Cheers!