21st - October
I learned quickly, but not clearly, the concept of a north star. If I can emphasize anything to my future self it is the enormous importance of having a north star written down. Another name for this is theme, but I think north star more aptly describes what it does. It is the consistent position or central idea in your story that you use to navigate the conflicts.
For me the north star was a little bit of why I was creating this story, it is not how the story would unfold. You see when you have the “why” and know the characters, they also follow the north star.
When I first started writing Mycos, I instinctively had a north star, but it had never occurred to me that the simple act of having it put clearly into words, and there for me to see, would help. I had pieces of notes here and there, but did not put the pieces together as it felt more artistic to have things jotted in my sketchbook surrounded with cool character sketches.
An example of how to use the north star: if there was a huge storm heading straight for my characters, I need to know how they will handle it. I know that Laika is a strong character, but she begins to be worn down by each conflict, and I also know that Pebble is more care free, having my theme or north star jotted down on the wall beside me helps me focus on how my two heroes will interact as the storm approaches. How will they deal with the challenge in a way that supports the story?
After spending years drawing and eventually finishing and printing chapter one, I went to Lightbox Expo, and there I found myself at a loss of words when it came time to share my work. Everyone was beyond kind, and excited to be sharing work together, so when people asked me what my graphic novel was about: I went into a much-too-long explanation that spilled out of my mouth. All I wanted was for the jumbled explanation to jump back into my mouth so I could stop making a fool out of myself.
If I had prepared more clearly a line or two that sums up the heart of my book, then I could have spared the agony of those moments in front of the artists I looked up to. In the end, I resorted to saying, “let me just show you,” and then I shared my book (which also works if you are an introvert).
The take away:
Writing down the north star not only helped me with sorting through my pitch, but also why I want to get up each morning and work on this massive project. It helped give importance to my day, a place to begin, as well as a place to end. Every decision is made with my compass and north star.