The Story of Jasmine is truly unique and remarkable—not only from the standpoint of the story being told but from other key aspects as well. I thought I would help my supporters understand why every installment is unique and remarkable.
It’s not supposed to happen like this…
… to freshly present a finished installment to readers at the same time the story is being conceived is unheard of. But here we are.
Books usually go into production after the ideas have already been conceived and written down, sculpted and rewritten, then edited and proofread. The amount of text is known. When planning a publication, designs are based upon knowing beforehand the sizes of all the elements needed to be in the layout.
The Story of Jasmine is in perpetual idea form. I can truly say I only have a vague notion of where the story is going. And I don’t know how the story ends. I am trusting that the creative process will take me where I need to go and everything will get resolved in a spectacularly satisfying way.
The way I process information is a factor in my creativity. Not only am I a visual thinker, but a spatial thinker as well. I see things in terms of their orientation in space (and time). When I’m writing, I often get a visual of how the story appears on the page.
I record ideas as they freshly occur to me and reason out the in-between stuff. I’m often surprised at what is gets revealed in the narrative that had never occurred to me when piecing known elements together. To update the newest information in my head is to integrate it.
While I’m in a more linear mode, I ponder why newly revealed details would be important and how they might affect the other characters. All I really have to do is pose the question to myself and I’ll (eventually) receive an answer. However, the story usually comes when I’m engaged in a physical activity, such as housework.
Maybe I’m sweeping the floor when a part of the drama unfolds before my eyes. I’ll continue my activity until the “clip” is finished. As a visual thinker I “see” the characters in motion. Then I’ll go over the scene in my head, again and again—while still sweeping—so I understand it from each character’s perspective.
****I’ve read research that suggests that doing something physical while trying to learn something reinforces the ability to remember. It might be why when talking with a friend while on a walk, I would be able to reconstruct our entire conversation later when taking the same route. The memory is tied to different features, such as walking over peculiar cracks in the sidewalk or pausing in front of a tree. I’m apt to agree with the study. But I digress… ********
Each published installment is a single scene that represents a complete thought. I decide whose viewpoint would most effectively advance the story for the reader. I only begin writing in earnest when phrases start coming in.
Writing might take a couple of hours or three days. But as soon as I am finished, I transfer the raw text electronically and import it into Photoshop. First, I see how much text there is to work with. If there is little text, the illustrations become larger, vice-versa.
This is the point where I edit the text. Appreciating the text in the context of the page is where I begin to assess the design. The text becomes units or blocks that have spatial relationships to other blocks. Visually, some blocks need to be filled when the lines are too short. I solve these visual problems by adding or losing words. It’s a matter of choosing different words to convey the same meaning. If I want to increase the size of an illustration, I may toss out a paragraph.
This more organic method flies in the face of conventional graphics design where an established grid dictates the size and relationships of the units. For aesthetic considerations, I rely upon my eye and my artistic sensibilities to make the page a joy to behold because I’ve internalized the rules and understand how to break them.
The Jasmine Font
A large part of my page aesthetic is due to the font. I designed my Jasmine font based upon the calligraphy I used in 1980 in some installments of The Story of Jasmine published in The Dragon magazine.
The text font is the italic version of the Jasmine font. This is another departure from convention. Italics is seldom used for large blocks of text because italics is too hard to read: it is usually reserved for captions instead. Roman (upright) and Regular (medium weight) versions of fonts are normally used for blocks of text.
When I first used my font, I was still renovating the original panels and wanted to replicate their size and look. The Jasmine italics font is the same size as the calligraphy was on the original panels—large—so readability is not an issue.
Then I decide what needs to be illustrated. Often, within an illustration’s progress, I may change the text to better describe the action, which may increase or decrease the size of the art.
Often, no illustration decision is necessary. I simply re-create what I saw in my mind’s eye when my creative muse showed me a clip. I admit, I often receive material enough for several pages. So it’s a matter of being discerning. If I wish to feature a certain scene, I manipulate the text to accommodate an illustration, balancing the elements of the narrative between three panels or more.
I chose to make the characters ultra-realistic looking. I wanted to f—k with the notion of reality impinging upon fantasy … a story documentary in page form. The realness of the characters feeds the realness of the tale. This very story just might be happening out there, somewhere, in another reality…
From conception to finished layout and art, the process takes about a month. With Patreon’s monthly deadline, I feel honor-bound to my patrons to produce at least one installment each month. During the month, I weave together many different creative disciplines. But whatever I do, the result is fresh and in-the-moment.
Where actually does the story come from? Is it my imagination or am I tapping into some other realm where all this is actually taking place? Do other writers wonder the same things too? Can’t it be both?
Well, I cannot worry about how relevant a story is about a girl growing into her power even though I sometimes wonder if people are sick of medievally-inspired fantasies about kingdoms at war with evil. It doesn’t matter. This tale is being told whether or not our world is ready for it.
All I know is that my Patreon fans are witnessing a creative process that integrates several disciplines on an on-going basis.