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Andrew writes...

Hey Greg, how do you plot seasons and specific episodes, do you set end goals to achieve in the story or do you begin to plot and see where the story flows naturally?

Greg responds...

Um, both. Go through the ASK GREG ARCHIVES for more detailed responses. But we use index cards with events marking tent poles in our stories, and then fill in with more index cards until every season, every episode, every scene is fleshed out fully.

Response recorded on August 17, 2021

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Ben Sloman writes...

Hey Greg!

I'm a big fan of your work - particularly on Young Justice and The Spectacular Spider-Man...I was wondering

1. If there's a possibility of the Young Justice comic series returning anytime in the future? As I've been re-reading them recently and forgotten how great they were in expanding the world you've created!
2. What advice would you give to an aspiring writer starting out...particularly in the TV and comics business?

Greg responds...

1. Nothing to report, but I'm still hopeful.

2. Please check out the WRITING and WRITING TIPS sections of the ASK GREG ARCHIVE.

Response recorded on August 13, 2021

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Rick Jones writes...

(Sorry if it's been answered but I did search the archives, and your answers about plotting YJ have been very illuminating.) Are there any books or guides to plotting a series? There are plenty of books about "how to write your pilot" and such, but I haven't had any luck finding suggestions for how to plot a series.

Greg responds...

I would think there are, but I haven't seen/read any. My method has been trial and error, learning by experience.

Response recorded on August 05, 2021

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Sebastian writes...

Hi Greg. I'd like to ask for some career advice.

1. I would love to write for animation. Besides writing as much as possible, what steps should I take that would make me a better writer for this art form?
2. I love animation, but cannot draw nearly good enough for any type of decent storyboarding. Is this something I need to fix in order to write for animation? I'm good at describing what I want to see, but I'm worried not being talented at drawing will hurt my chances.
3. I'm curious on your stance in terms of writing CAMERA ANGLES and TYPES OF SHOTS in the script. Traditionally, I've been taught to leave that to the director as much as possible. How do you tackles this when you write?
4. In action sequences, how detailed do you go? Do you give a general description for the director or an actual play-by-play. For example, is it more: "they trade punches, parrying each other until Clara gets an opening and hits Harry across the face." OR "Clara goes for the uppercut, but Harry leans back and dodges, then attempts to sweep her legs. Clara jumps over the kick, then grabs his shoulders, and head butts her opponent. She makes up for the previous miss with a fist to the face." (Just came up with that, so obviously not the best examples but hopefully that suffices).
4. What should I do to get hired on a show? I know that connections are key, but as someone who has no connections, what's the best thing for me to do? I have a spec of another show and a pilot for an original series. I'd love to be a writer's assistant, but that also comes about through connections. I have occasionally messaged a creator on social media and asked if there was any opportunities on their show, but I know that's hardly a good method to pursue a career. Any guidance on this aspect would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for taking the time to answer these fan questions.

Greg responds...

1. Sebastian, I'm going to refer you to the ASK GREG Archives on "Writing" and "Writing Tips" and "Biz, The". No offense, but I've answered this basic question so many times, it's kinda pointless for me to right it up again.

2. I can't draw stick figures well.

3. When I began in animation, we used to do much more directing in our scripts, as opposed to live action scripts, where you are advised to stick to Master Shots. Nowadays, we limit that calling of shots and angles, etc., to specific needs, e.g. we need a close-up on that light switch being turned off or a wide shot to reveal who is in the room or a tight close-up on a character's lips turning up into a cruel smile, etc.

4. I go for the specifics, because it expands page count. And page count equates to time. And if you're script is too long, you'll have to cut. So we try to get an accurate sense of time in the script, even if the board artists chose to choreograph the fight a bit differently.

5. Pre-pandemic, my first question would have been, "Where do you live?" And if your answer was anywhere other than Los Angeles, my second question would have been "When are you moving to Los Angeles?" Now, all the old rules are out the window, at least for the time being. I'm not sure what to recommend. Some of the advice in the archives should still be helpful. Otherwise, we're all just going to have to wait and see what happens, post-pandemic - assuming we ever get post-pandemic.

Response recorded on August 05, 2021

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DK writes...

As a writer and creative, you've been responsible for some of my most cherished childhood and adulthood favorites. Given your experience, I wanted to know what one's approach would be when they come up with a story that they could see manifesting as an animated series? Do you flesh the whole story out as if writing a novel, or do you try and create episodes on paper and tell the whole story; is the process entirely different altogether? I would love your insight on this sensei. Thank You

Greg responds...

Are we talking about selling or producing? They're two very different processes.

Response recorded on July 26, 2021

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Vievin writes...

I read somewhere that you legally can't be exposed to ideas, or something like that. Does this mean you cannot read fanfictions, browse the Tumblr tag etc? How does it impact you and/or the creative process?

Greg responds...

1. It does mean that. (See the ASK GREG Introduction, Paragraph 4, for an example.)

2. It doesn't.

Response recorded on July 09, 2021

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Jacob writes...

Hey, Greg?

I'm an aspiring writer. But mainly just as a hobby. Yes I know, writers who write for fun will likely never become accomplished writers.

Bit of dark humor aside, um. I seem to be stuck in a creative rut.

For the past seven months I've made up ideas for superhero stories. Yet, every time, I get quite far into the creative process, and my mind just disconnects. I end up lacking motivation to write, I scrap the idea, and I start over.

I was wondering if you had any advice from writing Gargoyles, or really anything else, that might be able to help me out of this cycle I find myself in time and again.

Thanks,

~Jacob

Greg responds...

My main advice is to write every day. EVERY. DAY. Think of it as a muscle that you have to exercise and build up over time. Some days you may only write a sentence and get stuck. But the next day you write another sentence. And the next day, you cross out the first sentence but write two more. Etc. You work the problem.

More advice is to break every notion down on index cards. Keep adding cards. Pull cards, but never destroy them. If you cross something out, only put a single line through them so you can still read what you wrote. (You never know when an old, formerly-rejected idea may prove useful.) Then once you have your cards feeling right, you write it up as a prose document.

Response recorded on July 09, 2021

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Lewys Tapscott-Nott writes...

How do you plan out a story Spider-Man?

Greg responds...

I'm not Spider-Man.

But basically, there's no difference in planning a Spidey story than planning a story for any show. It involves a lot of index cards, moving beats around until it gels.

Response recorded on July 09, 2021

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Greg Bishansky writes...

Lately I've been thinking of a villain trope that is decades (if not centuries) old. The maniacal laugh or the evil laugh. When used properly, I love it. When not, it can be hammy, over the top, and out of character.

Several of the villains you've written over the years have used it, and many haven't.

Off the top of my head, Thailog comes to mind first. And I wouldn't want Thailog without it. Granted, I sometimes wonder where he picked it up. It definitely wasn't from Xanatos. And while Sevarius might be hammy, I don't recall him doing it.

Hyena also has a maniacal laugh, and given her name (and personality) it definitely suits her.

The Archmage had a maniacal laugh.

Demona laughed maniacally three or four times. But it's not a trait we normally associate with her.

And let us not forget the Green Goblin in "Spectacular Spider-Man". I think he was the only villain on the show to have one. Likewise, I recall Nerissa doing it on "W.I.T.C.H." at least once.

The Joker aside, I do not recall any of the villains on "Young Justice" doing it. Any of them. Maybe I'm misremembering, it's been a while since I watched through the show, but I am struggling to remember and coming up blank.

Which leads to me to ask. Is the maniacal laugh a dated relic? Especially as we expect supervillains to be more sophisticated in our dramatic fiction, superhero or otherwise.

For example, in "Transformers", the classic Megatron used to laugh maniacally all the time. All the time. More modern takes on Megatron have done away with the maniacal laugh.

I love it, don't get me wrong, but should villains still be doing it. If we ever get more "Gargoyles", I definitely want Thailog to continue doing it. But, had Thailog made his debut in the year 2017, would I still want him doing it?

You have gotten the chance to create your own great supervillains as well as write many of the classic and iconic supervillains. Right now, what are your thoughts on the villainous laugh?

Greg responds...

I haven't exactly studied this issue.

I use it when it feels right in terms of character and situation. Obviously, some characters have more of a sense of humor about what they do than others.

Not all villainous laughs qualify as "maniacal" in my book either.

I would never outlaw the practice, but I think I do use it sparingly, both to avoid silliness and to make it special if and when we do use it.

Response recorded on June 29, 2021

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FallenLegend writes...

Hey there greg i fiorst want to say that you're a writer I admire deeply and try to emulate you my writting. One dream of mine is seeing you writing a full Superman series (m,y favorite superhero). I know silly, but I fee like you would be fantastic

Onto my question.

How do you manage to keep us guessing with so maby questions. I mean whenever you answer a question there seems to be another around the corner.

How do you acomplish that? I mean most writers when they answer the big questions, theres nothing else to. Yet with you whenever you answer something a new question rises.

Thank you greg

Greg responds...

We just think of our series as real worlds, with on-going issues. Nothing ever ends, so no answers answer everything. The characters keep moving and advancing on all fronts, including the heroes, villains and supporting cast. Once you keep that in mind, it's harder NOT to raise new questions as you go...

Response recorded on October 30, 2020


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