Friday, August 31, 2012

The Brave, The Bold, and The Brooding

I've been watching a lot of batman lately. The last of the Nolan movies left me wanting more of one of my favorite characters of all time. I decided to finally get to some of those comics gathering dust on my shelf and to re-watch the nineties animated series which I haven't seen since I was a kid. In addition I finally decided to watch the old justice league cartoon from around the same time, as I had never seen it.

As I watch, it continually surprises me how much I love the character with how little he actually seems to do. His entire character as Batman revolves around showing as little emotion as possible, and half the time as Bruce Wayne he spends falsifying emotions and pretending to be a playboy. It's really quite amazing that a character who says so little is so pervasive through our culture.

The Eternal Loner

I think I find popular culture's interest in Bats so fascinating because it's the opposite of reality. Pop culture in all forms love the quiet, introverted and borderline sociopathic lone wolves while in real life they are virtually shunned. Right now three of the most critically acclaimed properties are Batman, Doctor Who, and Sherlock. All of which are loners to a large extent (except their trusted compainon) and all hide their true emotions on a near constant basis. In real life people with their personalities would be outcast. They're quiet, smug, arrogant, and in the doctor's case, ramble to the point of annoyance. Hell whenever any of the three talk it's either to show how smart they are, how stupid you are or to show how little they care about the rest of us.

While these characters can be funny and charming at times their over all personalities are a checklist of off putting and undesirable characteristics. Why is society fascinated with arrogant loners in fiction, but ostracizes them in real life?

Under Calm Seas

Beneath the flat surface of these character lay a storm of conflicted emotions. And this is where I think the true strength in the characters lay. All of them have deep personal conflicts and tragedies that define them. Unlike in real life, we the the viewer are privy to the total knowledge of the character. We know why they hide behind the mask or the bow tie because we've seen their pain.While others see only the smug arrogance and a mask of deflection, we see the scared little boy that misses his parents underneath.

I've heard a lot of people say Batman's popularity is because of his rouges gallery, and though I think he has probably the best group of villains, I think this is untrue. Batman has managed to stay relevant for decades across multiple platforms and even extremely different styles. From the pulp detective stories to the tongue in cheek humor of the Adam West era, from the dark days of Miller to the realistic days of Nolan, Batman has remained one of the strongest and most beloved characters of our time. You couldn't do this without such a strong character to hold it together. For every Riddler or Joker in Arkham there's a Calendar Man or Cluemaster. Criminals come and go, without our hero the struggles against them wouldn't matter.

A Fine Line

As writers and storytellers we have to be careful with how we craft and display our characters. Whether it's show, don't tell, or making sure our brooding, conflicted hero doesn't look like an emo kid wearing mascara. One of the thing's I've noticed about the Bat is that even though he rarely speaks, what he has to say usually matters. You see this a lot in the Justice League cartoon.

The writers of the Justice League have their screen time split between seven heroes that all are major names in their own right. As such they often exaggerate the character's traits to ensure they stand out. The Flash becomes a constant stream of one liner's and corney jokes. Wonder Woman becomes a non stop feminst and Hawkgirl wants to smash everything in site.

For Batman this means he almost never speaks. When he does he's usually explaining something the others were too stupid to catch. Most of his emotions in the show come from his eyes by either narrowing into a squint, or widening out in surprise. And the wonderful thing is we know exactly what that means. It's all Bats needs to do for us to get everything he's thinking. It's a brilliant bit of showing and not telling. In Doctor Who the title character almost never shuts up, so it tells us how bad or difficult things are when he does.

What's more, when Batman does talk, not a single moment is wasted. He may say one line, or one joke in the entire episode but it hits home because it is placed at the precise moment it needed to. Characters such as these teach us that we don't have to put every motivation or thought on the screen. We can trust the audience to understand our characters and their emotions by giving them the minimum of what they need and letting them construct the rest.

Remember the next to time you watch the strong and silent type to watch how little speaking they do, and how much non verbal communication they use. Analyze how these characters are used at their most effective, and allow that to guide you in how you think about all your characters and how to use them at their best.

Now I'm thinking about a Batman, Doctor Who, Sherlock cross over...

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Familiarity Conundrum and Episodic Content

In the realm of TV, comic books, web series and other episodic content lies an underlying contradiction that I think challenges a writer of any level. In TV shows for example, every episode is supposed to tell its own self contained story, one that ties into the large narrative of the show as a whole. At the same time the shows must have familiar characters and settings that bind the narrative together and prevent the show from being a series of unrelated short stories.

In addition there's the familiarity of the story structure itself. One of the reason's I got into TV writing as opposed to books or comics was out of disgust with the procedural shows that cluttered my television. I was tired of seeing the same old plots acted out again and again with barely anytime given to the development of the characters or their stories. I would watch an hour of television, sitting through fifteen minutes of commercials to get five minutes of character growth. In almost any procedural show on television, whether it be about detectives or lawyers or doctors, they all invariably follow the same structure. You get the opening that has them talking about their lives, then the hook, be it the dead body that washes up on the shore or the accident victim being wheeled into the emergency room.Then they go through the episode's plot, who killed this person or what disease do they have. (And no, I'm not making the lupus joke.) You'll get a line of banter here or there about their relationship or what existential crises they happen to be struggling with that season, but by and large they fail to change or address anything of substance. Then at the end of the episode after the case is closed and the organ transplanted, we get our star crossed lovers having a quiet moment to themselves, only for the episode to end before it actually goes anywhere.

How many of us have seen episodes where the girl and guy to be are talking somewhere by themselves, having one of those romantic moments where they look into to each others eyes only to smile and look away, and then the episode just ends, for no other reason than they have to save something for sweeps week. In the real world the characters don't simply stop. It implies that they awkwardly walk away after the camera stops rolling, failing to mention anything that just happened. How many of us could go through that situation week after week before we grabbed the other person and said "enough with this shit, is this going anywhere or not?"

From Familiar to Boring

While familiarity in of itself is not toxic to stories, and can even be good (we'll get to that later) it runs the risk of ruining the story before your audience even get's a chance to experience it. I want you to do me a favor the next time you watch your favorite cop show of choice. Regardless of network, or series you will, without fail, see the same patten emerge. The killer, nintey percent of the time, is the second character introducted in the investigation. Could be a friend of the victim, or the neighrbor or a supsect, dosen't matter. If there are three suspects it is almost always the second one.

If the cops find out she was last seen with guy A,  it won't be him. They talk to the neighbor, guy B, and find out she was arguing with an ex-boyfriend. So they close in on guy C, thinking it's got to be the disgruntled ex. Nope, it was the neighbor. He thought he finally had his chance with her when she broke up with C, but was driven to a murder rage when he saw her with A.

Murder Rage, now there's a name for a band.

The formula completely ruined cop shows for me. Even when they try to spice it up by having only two suspects you know it will always be the first because the feel the need to pad the second act. The story of that type of show had become so predictable that it ruined the mystery.

Is Familiar All Bad?

No, it's not. As I said you need characters for people to identify with if want to have any hope of your story mattering to anyone. In addition there's something to be said for the comfort of the familiar. After all we're more comfortable in our own homes than in a stranger's.We all prefer our own beds to that of a hotel's.

One of the routines I used to have was turning on Scrubs after work. I had already seen every episode of that show at least three times, but still went back to it. After a long stressful and often unpredictable day it was nice to have something that I knew what to expect from. Mac and cheese may not be the most exciting of meals but at least you know you'll be satisfied with it. By building a familiar world and location we establish a sense of family with our characters. We feel like we could be friends with them and even come to call them family if they were to exist.

Alter the Mold Without Breaking It

I use Scrubs as an example above because I think it's one of those shows that really seems to get the medium it's in. When you turn on any random episode of Scrubs, you know what you're going to get. J.D. will be wacky, Elliot will be an emotional wreck, Dr. Cox will belittle someone and Dr. Jan Itor will say something that reminds us of the lovable sociopath that he is.

Within that standard framework the show was able to achieve so much more. It had multi episode arcs and rarely went more than a few episodes without having some kind of growth for one its characters. This was aided by having a huge cast that allowed them to rotate in side characters as they needed, but it was a show that was also willing to go to places that other half hour comedies weren't, like in the episode My Lunch. (My favorite by the way) Scrubs was able to use its familiatry like a securtiy blanket, giving us something to find comfort in as it explored darker areas.

The Simpsons is another great example, and speaks to why that simple cartoon has stood the test of time. You never, ever know where an episode of the Simpsons is going to end up. An episode is just as likely to begin with Bart in detention and end with Homer in a Russian gulag turning to Marge to say "it was a sure bet, how could we lose," as it is for the family to spend the entire epsiode within their own home. While using characters that have stayed virtually the same for the many years the show has been on, it provided and anchor with which to explore literately anything that came into the writer's minds.

So how do you fix this? How do we give engaging stories while retaining the familiar, how do we break into new territory without losing the familiarity that ensures the fans care? While I could provide more example like those above (Cowboy Bebop is a master of this by the way) I think it's best to go with the simple answer.


Characters are the chains that bind your story together. You can spend every episode in a different place, telling a different story in a different style as long as your characters are there for the ride. As long as you make your characters consistent, while giving them meaningful arcs and challengers to overcome, your audience will go anywhere with you. We travel with the crew of the Bebop to different worlds without hesitation, watching as they chase their latest target and get wrapped up in the target's story because we care about what's going to happen to them there. We care about how they're going to adapt to these new environments and the challenges that they bring.

We can break the mold of the same boring plots and paint by numbers fashion of storytelling because our viewers are there for the characters. Without interesting people no one would care if the murder was solved, without troubled doctors, no one cares if the patient is cured.


Is simply another tool in the writer's belt. It can liberate your story or carry it down into the murky depths of mediocrity depending on how you wield it. We're entering an age where television doesn't have to be the same boring cookie cutter templates we're used to. We can reach out into new forms of storytelling, explore new genres and styles as long as we give our audience something to hold onto, our characters as a security blanket to remind them what they're fighting for.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Thinking Your Audience Has ADD is Bulls**t

It seems everywhere I look these days, every list with ten rules you must follow, every blog post by every aspiring writing wanting to seem like a vet of the industry, is how you have to make every single second drip explosions and tits because the audience has ADD. If every second of your story isn't the most pulse pounding, interesting thing in the world the reader will toss down your book or the viewer will decide their phone is more interesting.

Hyperbole aside, this is simply not the case. Yes, we live in a world with limitless options, yes with live in a world where we are constantly connected and could at anytime turn our attention away. But we don't. I don't, you don't, your friends don't. I have never met someone who reads the first sentence, or page, of a book and puts it down because it was too boring. I heard of people putting them down because they were poorly written, or didn't like the style of the book. No reasonable reader would put a book down after the first page because it was too slow. No one changes the channel fifteen seconds into TV show if they are honestly trying to watch it. Unless they're channel surfing, they are watching for a reason.

Most of the time we pick up a book or new TV show because a friend or some other source we trust has recommend it, not because of a commercial, or because we just happened to turn it to that channel. It happens, but it's far more likely a friend told you it was awesome and that you just had to check it out. So you sit there and watch the show, or read the book even if it's the most boring drivel you've ever seen. You at lease give the show a fair shot before turning it off, hardly abandoning the story after one page. I'm mixing my examples here, but you get my point. Most of the people I know will give a show three episodes before dumping it, three whole hours to see if it gets good. Even readers browsing through the book store will hardly judge a book solely on the story content of the first page. They take into consideration the cover, the summary on the back, the buzz they've heard, the writer's style, everything.

This whole notion of having a good hook has become blown far out of proportion over the years. Having a good writing style and interesting characters are far more important than starting your story with explosions and making sure every other page is filled with something that won't let the reader put the book down. If your story is interesting and your characters are compelling your reader is going to pick up that book again, even if they have to make time. I've had countless times where friends have told me to wait to join into a game, or to hang out because they were in the middle of a show, even if it was random internet clip. I've never had one throw down a book they were into and take off at the slightest opportunity. If you ever checked your phone in a movie it wasn't because the movie slowed down, it was because the characters didn't interest you and the plot had left you behind.

I find the entire idea of treating every single reader like they're going to abandon your book at anytime condescending and misguided. This is the exact kind a note a poor editor gives their writer without understanding the finer points of a story. All stories are made of climaxes and rest, rise and falls that move the story along and keep the reader interested without exhausting them. Trying to make every page and sentence appear to be more interesting than every alternative the reader has to them in not only misguided and impossible, it's detrimental to the over all story.

Don't worry if your movie starts out with people talking in a cafe, or a long gunman walking through the desert. If your writing is good, if your story is interesting and if  your characters feel alive, people will care what happens to them. If you started a zombie movie with someone getting their face eaten off we might be entertained, but no one will care about that person. You haven't given us any reason too. You have to show us the normal before we have reason to give a damn about the abnormal.

I'm seeing a lot of list floating around the internet these days with ten things you must do, or fifteen laws every writer should follow. It's bullshit, every bit of it. There is on rule, and one rule only. Write good shit. That's it. Write good shit. Nothing else matters. Not how awesome the reader's phone is, not that they could be doing literally anything else. Write good stories and people will care. Period.

Rant over.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

One Dimensional Worlds

We've all heard of one dimensional characters. The cardboard cut outs of people that have zero depth to them. The meat head heavy hitter who exist only to be the dumb jock. The jerk who shoves the geek into a locker for no reason. The ditsy damsel in distress with all the personality of a balloon who exist solely to be rescued and fall in love with our protagonist.

Thankfully these characters have been fading from the public eye as genres have become more established and storytelling has evolved across multiple mediums. But what about one dimensional worlds? Not to be confused with single-biome worlds like Hoth or Dune that have only one terrain type. No, I'm talking about the worlds that feel thin, where you can see the seems that hold them together, like old western backlots that show storefront after storefront only to be held up by boards in the back.

Holy crap, they still make Clip Art?

Our worlds need just as much depth, if not more than our characters. For our world is a character, and in many ways the most important. You can have the best characters, the most interesting story, but if your world doesn't feel real no one will buy the rest. This isn't to say that you need dragons flying in the skies or mole people popping out from the sewers. Even our ever day, dull and boring world can be interesting and multidimensional with settings and characters that make it feel truly alive.

Video Games

Video games are one of the most captivating forms of entertainment because they have the ability to convey story to the audience every second of every moment of gameplay.With books you only have the words which the reader must visualize, with movies the viewer is limited to passively absorbing the material. In video games the player is interacting with the story through it's mechanics and it's world. The world is crafted from the ground up to convey the theme and story to the character at all times.

I had a discussion with a friend the other night about three popular video games and their worlds. Fallout 3 and Skyrim, made by Bethesda and Mass Effect by Bioware. Three very different games with different stories and characters. More importantly with very different styles of design. All are, in their own way "open world" allowing the player to go from area to area as they please and tackle the games missions in what order they like. All three games allow the player to add members to their team, either permanently as main characters or as backup in specific areas. Each game is in a different genre, being post apocalyptic, fantasy, and sci-fi respectively. Lastly, all three are critically acclaimed and regarded as excellent games and even masterpieces as well as personal favorites of mine.

It is however, undeniable that these games aren't perfect and some work better in some areas than others. I don't want to get into reviews of the games, that's not what this site is for and there are far better reviewers out there than me. What I do want to look at is their writing and world building.

Comparing Worlds

The Elder Scrolls series is one of my favorites of all time. I picked up Morrowind, the third in the series, in a bargain bin for around seven dollars. Dollar for dollar, probably the best purchase I ever made. The series has an open world unparallelled in it's freedom, a rich lore and a long history to draw from. The game even has books in it that you can open and read that contain in-universe stories.

So why is that this world can seem so thin at times? So one dimensional? Ask yourself how many characters you can remember from an Elder Scrolls game. In Skyrim you have Stormcloak (who for the record has one of the most awesome names of all time.) but how much can you tell me about his character, his motivations? We have Cicero, the crazy jester, he's memorable. How many more? That list get's thin pretty damn quick.

Now how many of you remember Three-Dog, the wild radio man of the Wasteland in Fallout 3? I'd bet every last one of you does. Here we have two games, from the same company, made by the same people. Remember Martin from Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion? The emperor's son. Can you tell me anything about his personality? I bet you could tell me about Three Dogs.

Those are characters, what about the setting? Fallout has some of the most iconic images in gaming. Everyone knows what the Vault Boy looks like. Can you describe me one thing from a poster or sign  in an Elder Scrolls game? On the other hand, the elder scrolls series has some of the best shop names I've ever come across.

Why are the miscellaneous characters you meet in one game memorable and those in the other are not? You can't say its the skill of the writers because they are made by the same people. I can remember quest after quest in Fallout 3. I'd be hard pressed to remember more than three from Skyrim. I loved both games, but why is one so memorable and the other so forgettable?

In Skyrim we have this beautiful breathtaking landscape where everywhere you look could be it's own painting. It's gorgeous, while the wasteland of Fallout is a field of brown rocks. Bland and utterly forgettable. Fallout's world should be the one dimensional backdrop of a world, while Skyrim's should be the multidimensional holy grail we all strive for, why isn't this the case?

My friend theorized it was just that, the settings caused the creators to act differently toward their world. With Skyrim they had a beautiful land with creatures and weather patterns and town after town of people. Of course it will feel real, how could it not? But they filled that world with forgettable, empty people. Animatronics with simple gears and per-programed sound bits to spits out as you passed them by like relics from an old theme park. The bleak landscapes of the wasteland however forced them to put more life into their people. The shop keeper in Megaton is more memorable than all the bartenders in Skyrim combined. The Thanes are forgettable and replaceable while the ghouls and Tenpenny stick in our memories. The people of Skyrim drift through life. They chop wood and hunt animals and go about their lives but they never seem to care about anything. They're props, as meaningless as the trees and bunnies we pass. The people of the wasteland however have real desires and needs. They care about things and so we care right along with them. They might be trying to take back a city or find a lost loved one or even collect some Nuka Cola bottles. The point is they want something, they need something. If you turned off the game they'd still be there, trying to find those special edition bottles. Sure the people in Skyrim want things. A trinket here or a lost sword in a cave there but they never really seem to give that much of a damn. You leave their sword to rust and they'll keep going about their lives, making sure to give the same canned response every time you visit.

Both games have the same mechanic, both will give you the same lines of pre-written dialog. The characters in the wasteland feel more alive because they were given more personality, more depth because the creators knew the setting wasn't going to be able to carry any of that weight. In Skyrim conversely they didn't have to give it as much attention, letting the pretty snow physics do the work of making their world real.

You can spend three pages writing about how pretty this field is or how unique each blade of grass is (God knows Tolkien does) but it won't amount to anything if the world is only one layer deep. You can have the best painting backdrop in the world, it won't matter to your audience if that's all there is. It takes more than one element to make a world work.

Mass Effect

Which brings me to Bioware. If you removed all the story, all the writing and characters of the Mass Effect games and were left with just the gameplay, they would not be very good games. I love this series, it is one of my favorites of all time, across any medium. But the moment to moment gameplay, of shooting from behind cover, or trying to drive the Mako, is certainly not what masterpieces are made of.

The reason why people have loved the series so much is because it has a brilliantly realized world with interesting characters that have real personalities. I took Garrus on almost every mission across all three games because I cared what he had to say. I want to let that sink in for a moment. I cared what he had to say. A fictional character. Someone who doesn't exist. His personality was so interesting to me, so vivid, with a clear outlook that I wanted to know how he perceived a situation. I wanted his advice when encountering a new threat. Compare that to the companions in Skyrim, utterly forgettable puppets that immediately fade from memory. When a companion in Skyrim dies my only thoughts are "were they holding any good equipment," and "should I reload my last save, how important were they really?" In Skyrim I was more pissed off when someone killed my horse than I was when a companion died. Put that up against Mordin, who's death I will remember for the rest of my life.

If you didn't have tears in your eyes at this moment,
you have no soul.
It's not just the "main characters" either. Picture the Citadel, how about Tuchanka? Now picture Winterhaven or White Run. Hell I had to Google those to make sure I had the names right, I didn't have to for the first two. You spend, what, and hour in Tuchanka but you remember it. It may be a "world" in the lore, but it acts a town to gather quest like in any other game. That world had more character and story than any town in an Elder Scrolls world ever has. Even the random characters you meet like the Turian trying to sleep with the Quarian who's been hurt one to many times or the Hanar preacher in the Presidium are far more memorable than the people you come across in the mountains of Skyrim. The only quest that stand out in that game usually deal with the Daedra Princes, and that's because they have personality.

This guy has more personality than butterflies, a Fox, a severed head, and cheese.

Multidimensional Worlds

This leaves us with the question of how to make words that have the same depth as out characters. The easy answer is to say that we give them the same attention that we give our characters, that we put in as much effort in their creation and polish as we would with anything in our story, be it the plot or the people. The real answer lay somewhere deeper. It isn't simply the characters, or the back drops or the worlds. It's everything, all the time. In Mass Effect every single thing in the game builds to a greater whole. Every location in the game not only has it's own personality and story to tell, it's one that fits in to the larger narrative. Each character, big and small is going about their life and dealing with the crises that matter to them. They may not be trying to save the galaxy but they are trying to talk to that pretty girl and that's just as challenging for them. The people in the Wasteland may not be trying to rebuild civilization, but they are trying to scrape by with what they have, to live one more day.

The trick is to make your worlds live and breathe, with everything building on one another. The world of Fallout is stuck in a pseudo 50's reality and the people reflect that in their speech and charm. Mass Effect may be a story of intergalactic war and Nihilistic struggle but it's a universe filled with real people and real lives that gives us something to fight for and make us care if we don't succeed. They make the hero's sacrifice worth it, and in the process sweep the reader along and make them feel as if their time is worth it.

By having worlds as real as our characters we give added weight to our story. It's what give us that feeling of the story and struggles truly hitting home, because if the world doesn't feel real we won't care about the people within it.

I hope I haven't rambled too much in this one, I have to admit it went a little longer than planned. I hope you enjoyed it. Now stop slacking off and get back to writing.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Concept Art and Writers

Concept art is a great resource for writers and one I try to use everyday. These simple images have a large number of uses and are great tools to have in your arsenal.


Concept art is a fantastic source of inspiration. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and while that may be true, each image tells a story. Just as every song has emotions and a story to convey, so do all forms of art.

Concept art is great because it does exactly what it says on the tin. It conveys a concept, a seedling of an idea that can be cultivated into dozens, if not hundreds, of stories. Over the years I've collected images and pictures that I've found online into a folder on my computer. Whenever I'm experiencing a drought of ideas or creativity I browse through this folder. With each image I try and think of the story or character the image is trying to convey. I find this is a great jumping off point for new ideas.


Fancy name for a minor heading, huh? What I mean is that pictures and art are a great way to help you clarify you language as a writer. Occasionally as writer's we get an image in our head, say of a crumpling bridge with spires covered in runes, or of an alien antenna that spits lighting. Something that is easy to picture but difficult to put into words. This can be especially troubling when trying to describe a piece of alien technology or some other device made of strange shapes.

Concept art can help by giving you a picture to go off of. I'm not saying to steal the things you see in them. What I mean is by practicing how to put into words the thing you're seeing in the image, or by finding and image close to what you have in mind, can help you translate that into words for your audience.

By having a real thing that you can look at, you have something that is easier to describe than the fading, loose idea in your head.


Lego's, aside from being awesome, are a great analogy for the use a writer get's out of concept art. Our brains store every image we've ever seen. We may not be able to remember them all or even remember that we've seen them, but they are there, lurking as bits and pieces beneath the surface. I read a study once that said our brain can't create new faces, that every face we've ever seen in a dream is actually someone we've seen in real life. This applies to writing a well.

When we, as writers, try and think of a space ship or a planet or a dragon it is nearly impossible to think of something that it, and it's parts, have never been seen before. Instead we break down things we've seen and mix them and match them to create something new. Maybe you have a dragon but it's wings look like a bats, or it's teeth like those of piranha. Maybe your space ship has Greek columns and lighted circuits running through it's walls. These are things we've seen before in different places re-purposed to our needs. Just like all those bricks and accessory's in our boxes of Lego's. (You know you have one.)

By looking at concept art from all genre's and art forms, by looking at photos and paintings alike we build in our minds a library of bits and pieces, of tiny building blocks of information that we can rebuild as we like. The more images we see, the larger and deeper our toy box becomes. It is always good advice for a writer to read and consume stories in different forms and genres. Images are no different.

How do you create the lightsaber without seeing swords and lasers? How do you create tie fighters and X-wings without seeing footage of WWII dogfights? By taking imagery from sources outside our own we create richer, more diverse settings and characters for our stories. In one of my stories I have a character with a design that would have been nightmarish to come up with from scratch. Instead I took bits of imagery from all over to create her look. A bit of a Quarian's suit here, the ruins on a Greek golem there, with a touch of a liquid, metallic silver to finish it off. These were pieces in other things that I broke off and threw in my toy box without even realizing it, only to dig them out and put them together as I needed.

Now I really want dig out my old Lego's...


Here are some places you can find great concept art. - Great diversity and search functions. - Host a lot of professionals. - Wide variety of genres and artist - You should already know about this one.

So get out there, look at some art! And if you like what you find tip a few bucks to the artist. Not only will you get to build a vast library of images for yourself, but it will make you better writer while you're at it.