Sunday, July 28, 2013

Kamil's Cups Aren't Overflowing!

... but her femininity is starting to ooze out all over the place!

Jezebel asked an interesting question in the Shop Talk section of Rachel's Haven that I responded to, and I will be expanding upon it here. The question was:
A artist has a sketchbook, constantly sketching. Refining and getting better, hopefully. I still can't draw a hand, stupid fingers.

What can I do as a writer to get better? I have been pushed to experiment. Trying poems, even a haiku. A big Thank You to that Havenitte for letting me experiment on her with my caps and giving me feedback so I can learn. Which if you have read my stuff you know I love a lot of words, so haiku are definitely a test.  But what can I do as a writer to polish my skills,.

Any tips? 
My first two responses involved challenging yourself by tackling things you don't like to read/write about and figuring out ways to make them more comfortable. Trying to look at things from a different angle can make all the difference. Even just TRYING is a good thing: even if you fail, you've gotten more experience trying to craft a tale.

Practice was brought up by Scifi Kara, and I think its the main thing that can help. Just MAKING captions, for yourself and for others, will build confidence and evolve your skills. The more you exercise, the more fit you will become, and the more you practice something, the better you become at a task. I think that if any known TG captioner were to post their 1st 5 captions, and their most recent 5 captions, you could see a big progression in what they are doing now verse what they started out many months or years ago.

The last section I am going to quote in pieces and elaborate. The fact that I sited songs .. and its easier to embed videos here than on the Haven, makes for a good case study.
Examine HOW others make captions. Don't just read them for enjoyment. Try to figure out HOW they came up with what they did, and if any captioners (for instance, myself, Simone, Caitlyn-Masked) have blogs that give you insight as to their thought processes  .. read them! Their methodology might not be for you, but studying the process behind how they get creative might stir ideas of your own. I know that Caitlyn and Jennifer both tend to listen to music to get them in the mood, and it often bleeds into their captions.

Piggybacking off that, many times I will just LOOK at a caption before reading it and I'll think, "why did they choose the background colors and place the picture where it is?" or "Hmmm, what would *I* have done with this picture?" and then see how the captioner used it. Read it through once for enjoyment. If you really liked it, think about WHY you liked it. Was it the storyline, how it was composed, or something else? Think about how you would have written it and rewrite it just for yourself.

As a musician, you can have the same chord progressions and make them completely different songs. Billy Joel wrote "We Didn't Start the Fire" and a song called "Shameless" that are both on the 1989 "Stormfront" album (Garth Brooks did the more famous version.) 
Both songs have the same chord structure (G - D - Em - C) and you can hunt them all down on Youtube to see how different the songs are. They don't sound that much alike at all but they both have the same chordal backbone. Many Ramones songs use the same progressions that Bach used in his pieces 300+ years ago.

So you have someone that is considered a great musician and writer using the SAME CHORD PROGRESSION on two songs on the same album, separated by only 2 songs on the CD! Was he worried that people would hear it? Probably not because they have different moods and do veer off to other sections .. its just the verses of each song that have the same chords.
Filmmakers look at other movies to see what the masters did .. ditto for artists, musicians, writers, et al. Find out what inspires you and try to figure out WHY it does. Use those techniques to make your work have that signature style people will recognize. Talk to others that write things you like; this place is quite friendly so I can't imagine anyone would give you a cold shoulder. Ask those who you think are good writers to give an honest critique of what you are doing and how they think you could improve.
Self-examination .. and the inquisitive nature of WHY and HOW should be a big motivator in doing any sort of creative pursuit. Not everyone feels this way, but to me, finding out HOW the sausage is made give me more enjoyment when cooking and/or eating the dish in which the sausage was the main ingredient. I love Mythbusters, Good Eats, and the History Channel.

Will reading my blog make you a better captioner? Well, if you can barely string together a few complete sentences together to form a coherent thought and convey what the characters are going through .. I doubt it. At the very least though, I would like to think that you can understand the "artistry" behind what we do, and possibly give you insight ... and perhaps shine a light on just what goes on in a captioner's mind.

See, we even have multiple comedy bits involving that same chord structure!


  1. I hope you end up doing more challenges now. I would love to see some writing/capping challenges in the haven and I might have a few ideas that I'll share with you next time we talk.

    1. I think I did one where I posted a picture or two but no one responded.

      Perhaps if we did a combined effort on our blogs we might get a bit more of a response. I'll try to catch you online sometime this week. Did you get your networking issue taken care of now?

  2. I think with everything you do the thing is to enjoy it. Your advice above is good and the more you do and study that can not hurt. I do a few captions on Mandy's duressed into dresses blog just for fun but don't think I well push any boundaries.
    my own hobby is oil painting I have many unfinished because I felt I was not good enough and stressing myself out now I do it for my own pleasure and if others like it that's great I just except the level I am at and keep plugging away.
    Don't think everything you start has to be perfect first time even professional writers have full waste paper bins and artists wiped canvases.

    1. I still have lyrics I've written from 10-15 years ago that I have in case I need them. Either they didn't fit the music I had for them, or I only had a verse or two then wandered off due to my ADHD or ADD or whatever it I probably have.

      When it comes to captions, I probably have a graveyard of 20 captions on my drive that I never finished. Every month or so I look at them to see if I have another idea .. sometimes I end up refashioning them completely, or just tweak them enough for me to be happy with them.

      Trust me. I am not like Caitlyn where I can/will stress out over every detail. If I can't finish the caption in 15 minutes or so, I save it where its at, and then move on to something else.

  3. I am blown away by that chord progression and the multitude of ways it has been used.

    Seriously, I never noticed, because I am pants at music.

    However, I DID know that the Pet Shop Boys deliberately used the same chord progressions from various classical artists and used them very deliberately (nicking Shostakovich for one about Russia, was it "Only the Wind"? and nicking Beethoven rather obviously for "Miracles", there are others). It should follow that virtually everyone else does the same sort of thing.

    I lack the ability, nay, the talent to do captions, but I do loves me some discussion about how the process works and that's one of the many reasons I enjoy this place, even if I fail to comment most of the time. Maybe when my move is over I will finally find some time to write more fiction, maybe.