This was the second entry into my blog, a post that is now four years old. I’ve enjoyed coming back to the blog to recap my struggles and triumphs early on with my writing career, and I’m posting these as a way to say to other aspiring writers: “Don’t give up.”
I plugged away at this career for 6 years before even a small publication happened, but as the years went on, my contact network expanded and I strengthened my craft. I still think back to my first comic script and cringe at how bad it was. If I work up the courage, I may post it. For posterity.
Snow Angel: Plotting Points
Jo approached me with a scenario in mind for the femme fatale that was the prominent image for his production poster. We spoke at length over the phone about a mutual love of noir and crime stories, naming movies back and forth and in turn praising the title as one we enjoyed. It was obvious from the first conversation that we both knew what we wanted from Snow Angel: a gritty, crime story set in the backdrop of the drug stuffed era of the 70’s.
He asked me if I had seen Cocaine Cowboys, a documentary that came out in 2006 relating the events and details of the Medici Cartel’s drug running operations in Miami at the tail end of the 70’s and early 80’s. I hadn’t at that point, but he discussed with me in detail a powerful figure of that time,Griselda Blanco, nicknamed the Godmother.
This woman, by all means, was the ultimate badass. Her vendettas knew no boundaries, she murdered people if they crossed her, no matter how powerful their allies or relatives may have been. There were never extensions on late payments, failure to follow through on promises got you and every single person in your family killed.
A killer instinct and the total commitment to show abolute power was something both Jo and I saw in the woman Tyler had illustrated.
In essence, Griselda is a small influence in Snow Angel. However, when approaching this story I didn’t want to write the story of someone who’d already lived, I wanted this character to be my own, someone I could craft and develop over time. I really wanted to breathe life into the narrator and make the world around her feel that much more real.
The first question one has to ask is that if someone is a certain way, what events in their life led them to that point? It’s easy to hash together a life story that we’ve seen hundreds of times in film and print because the easiest answer sometimes is the most logical. In this case, Griselda herself was a sexually exploited woman who at a point in her younger years worked as a prostitute. It is legitimate grounds for someone to become emotionally disconnected and to harm those around her.
I felt differently about my character. One of my main issues with a lot of mainstream films and graphic novels is that most often a woman is strong only because of some awful injustice that was put upon her. Often times, they are of a sexual nature, and the strong, unshakable woman exists as such because she had to ‘toughen up’ or else remain a victim. Again, I’m sure there are cases of that, but it’s a cause of concern for me and I didn’t want to follow that same path. Why can’t this beautiful, strong woman be strong because she has chosen to be a leader and has the gumption to do so?
Of course, Snow Angel needed to have a strong theme, and while the tale of a young woman dominating the drug trade in Miami is certainly captivating, there needed to be something a little more.
I contemplated the story at length, really searching for an interesting angle that would have a great underlying message we could see and feel from beginning to end. Over coffee, my wife and I brainstormed several ideas and came up with a theme that I feel will really bring Snow Angel a life of its own.