A few weeks ago I announced a contest here on WritersinCharge asking you for your ideas to help create a perfect writing cartoon.
There were a lot of entries (over 50) and I was impressed by the cleverness and creativity of WritersinCharge readers. In fact, someone went the extra mile and drew an illustration to explain his idea.
You guys rock!
There were entries from various parts of the world and I really appreciate every entry. In fact, it was damn difficult to decide the winning entry.
The Winning Ideas
Initially, I planned to have just one winner but after re-reviewing all the entries I noticed one more idea and decided it’d be better to have two winners.
The two winning entries are from:
#1. Codrut Turcanu
“Hi Oni, I’d have a “freelance guru” instead of “freelance writing professor”, as it sounds less boring and quite exciting.
“Gurus are fun, yet they give inspirational , practical, motivational advice and insight. I’d create the drawings on the most pressing freelance writers’ issues, challenges, needs, and problems. I’d give the solution in an easy , fun way.
“Readers would relate to the context, and would say to themselves.. “Aha!”, or “How couldn’t I think about this before!”
“P.S. The cartoons should be a series. For example, each Wednesday you’d have 4-5 cartoons where the “Guru” either interviews an expert, talks about a challenge, or gives some insight. It has to be interactive – the Guru fronting someone or learning from someone, or sharing something. Hope it makes sense.”
“Oni, I hope this isn’t too late. If you want the strip to be funny it needs to play on the bad advice for writers that one can find all over the Internet. You need a host in the first panel, a teacher or just a narrator. This person sets up that strip’s storyline. The other panel members show a new writer (probably a not-too-bright one – if you want it to be a recurring character) who takes bad advice and suffers the consequences. In the last panel he finally accepts the wisdom of the narrator and corrects his mistake. This can be tied to whatever topics you want to cover in the blog that week. If you want to write about a topic like building an e-mail list or ghostwriting, your cartoon character can make mistakes and find solutions. You can then elaborate on this issue in your posts. I hope this helps.”
I’m leaning towards the idea of having a snarky professor but Codrut’s point also has great merit.
I think a professor will be restricted in terms of grounds that can be covered; it’ll be rare for a professor to interview someone else but it’s easier for a guru to interview another guru or a newbie.
Of course, both will have an ego factor or a particular trait that will add some humor to the cartoons. Since this is going to run for a long time I don’t want it to be boring.
I also love Louis’ idea in regards to playing on bad advice for writers and I think this can add the fun element to the cartoon.
For this reason I’ll be going with both Louis’ and Codrut’s idea.
I think both ideas explain a way to implement the cartoon and also help determine a scope for the strip.
Whether to go for a prof or guru (as in “expert”) I’m not yet sure, but you’ll be able to vote later in this article.
Why I didn’t go with some of the ideas submitted
Almost every single idea submitted to the contest was great. My reason for the delay in publishing this article was due to the difficulty experienced in the process of determining the winning idea.
It wasn’t easy.
If you submitted an entry but didn’t win, it wasn’t because the idea wasn’t great. The ideas chosen weren’t the best ideas. They are in line with what I want to achieve on the site. They better determine the scope of the cartoon series, and also have long term viability.
Here’s why I didn’t go with most of the ideas submitted:
1. Letting the character be me: Around a quarter of the entries submitted suggested that the character be me. While this was touching, it wouldn’t bring about the effects I had in mind.
Of course, it’s not that I don’t like myself (and some of those comments are flattering if I’m being honest). The aim of this cartoon series is more about helping you and other writers get inspiration and tips to succeed in the best way possible.
This is something I want to go far beyond me.
To make this possible the character has to be something more than me; the character isn’t a representation of me in any way and some of the ideas will be presented in ways that aren’t “me”.
2. Having a Beginner: I thought about this and almost went with the idea but I stopped for two reasons.
It’s easy to have a funny freelance writer who’s struggling (whom others can empathize with), but this isn’t just about the fun of it. It’s about learning and getting tips to succeed and I think the best person to give this tip isn’t a beginner.
There’ll be some revelations, tips, inspiration and sometimes chastising; a beginner character won’t be able to effectively do that.
This is also about establishing a brand for the cartoon series that takes WritersinCharge further and I don’t think the idea of having a beginner will work very well for that.
3. Having a Male and a Female: This seems like a great idea and something I’d have loved but there are limits to what I can do.
To be direct, I’m a strong believer that males and females are equal. I don’t believe either gender is better than the other, and I openly advocate that and express my opinions.
However, I believe it’s important to keep the goal of this cartoon series in mind as well as the scope of the series.
Just to give you an idea, someone even sent a personal email asking me to make the cartoon series in my native language (Yoruba) but I can’t. Not that I don’t like the language, but this isn’t about any race, color, sex, age or language. It’s about getting the message across in a way that helps you get results and I’ll do anything to ensure that.
I believe having a male and female as main characters will dilute the message of the series; I really don’t care if the character is male or female but I know it has to be one voice – with a unique personality – which people can feel comfortable listening to.
Now, I don’t really believe that should affect the cartoon series and I might well be adding a female counterpart to the cartoon series in the future if necessary.
I’m male myself and I believe not being a female doesn’t prevent females from learning from me. This isn’t any different from the cartoon series.
Don’t get this wrong, there’ll be females in the cartoon series but not as the main character!
4. Having more than one character: This is also another great idea I’d love to implement but that will dilute the purpose of the series.
If you’ve watched Mad Men you’ll know Don Draper. The Don Draper brand is so widespread that people ask themselves when they have any problems – in dealing with relationships, jobs or anything else – “what would Don Draper do?” Just do a Google search to see what I mean - and Don Draper is a TV character, not a real person.
I haven’t watched Mad Men myself but I know of this – I doubt this would have been possible if Mad Men had more than one main character.
I want a cartoon series that freelance writers start asking themselves, what would the main character do if they have one problem or the other. I know this will take some time but I also believe the foundation is important.
With that said, every idea submitted will help make the cartoons better. Thanks so much for contributing!
Where We Go from Here
Both Codrut and Louis submitted a winning idea and have won $250 each. I’ll be contacting them as soon as this post goes live for details on how to send them their payment.
Determining the Character
As I said earlier on, I’m not sure if the character should be a professor or a freelance writing guru (expert). What do you think? Should the cartoon character be designed to be a guru or a professor? Kindly vote below and I’ll be taking things forward from here. Thanks!