Woman of the Month: Jacquitta McManus, Bringing Fantasy to Life

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Jacquitta McManus
The Birth of Unmatched Talent      

All her life, she gravitated to fantasy/adventure stories, stories that she felt she could be a part of and completely immerse herself in–in her imaginations….the imaginations of Jacquitta McManus.         

As a little girl from Kentucky, she didn’t have a lot of outlets that allowed her to explore what drew her to fantasy/adventure stories. All she knew was that they were exciting adventures, and she loved the experience of the imagination. As she got older and it was time to make a decision about what to do as a career, she realized that the only thing that interested her was animation. So she headed off to college for a digital animation degree. She loved computers, you see, so it seemed like the obvious choice.         

College Years         

So, she was in college taking her courses, taking art classes, taking animation classes and of course the basics.         

P.S. She was one of the students who hated taking the basic courses. She was there for animation and that was all she wanted to do. Math… uhhh! Could have left it. French … uhhh! Could have left that too. English … well … was never a strong subject for her. Grammatics, (it’s not a real word… but it sounds good, right), didn’t sink into her brain either. She didn’t get it. Therefore, she didn’t even consider being a writer of stories. Her focus on was getting into her animation classes. (but shoo, don’t tell her Woman to Woman said so)         

Jacquitta constantly went to the professor over the department to get in early. “Thank you Professor, for allowing me to start animation before I really got into my art classes.” (But of course after I started taking my animation classes I could see why having an art foundation was so important).         

During the end of her college experience, and her last couple of semesters, she gave birth to her beautiful son. Although her grandmother thought she wouldn’t finished her program, she did. She got her degree in Mass Communications with an emphasis in Digital Animation, and with minors in Art and African American studies. Jacquitta also studied abroad in Africa. That was a great experience for her. Last year, she got into directing films, something that is quite a passion for her as well and one she hopes to make a reality in the near future.         

Wedding Bells!         

Our woman of the month got married, changed location and got her pretty baby girl. (just what her husband really wanted, a girl, everything was great).         

Film Production         

It wasn’t until her daughter was growing out of watching Sesame Street and Blues Clues that she realized that there were not a lot of things out there for her daughter. And when I say that I mean, fantasy/adventure stories with characters that looked like her. It bothered me. It bothered me a lot. But even then, I didn’t start down the storytelling path. I remembered writing down a story concept, very very vague with little details about what I visioned on a piece of paper and that was it. At the time, I was working on my first short film. I was producing and directing and it consumed me. I had a strong desire for it to be right, and I had to prove to myself that I could do what I thought I could do. (And I can.) I wanted to direct a fantasy/adventure short story but knew that financially it was easier to go the drama route, so I did. I wrote, produced and directed a short film and was pleased.          

It wasn’t all I thought I could make it but it was good for the resources I had. Everyone who was involved in the project loved it and wanted me to submit it to a film festival, so I did, but only one.”         

Jacquitta’s short film was picked as one of the top five finalists, although it didn’t win.It was nevertheless a happy moment for her, to know that her piece made it that far.         

“One thing that caught my attention after the film was made and screened was my direction in writing the script. When it was all done, I saw places I wished I would have handled differently, and some places I wished I would have given more room. Although I wanted to keep it under 15 minutes, I wished I wouldn’t have let the story dictate its own length (a lot of wishes in restrospect, right?)If I had those wishes, it would have given the story more room to connect with people and would have allowed for more moments that would have rounded out the characters.         

After the short film I got a lot of questions about the 2nd part and what I was planning to do with the rest of the story. My hope at that time was to turn the storyline into a series. So with the help of two other people, I began the process of writing the series. Our goal was to write the first twelve episodes. It was around episode three that I realized that I didn’t like the drama genre as much as I liked the fantasy/adventure genre. So, I picked up a pencil and pad and for two weeks I wrote out an outline for a fantasy/adventure trilogy. It took about six legal pads. I mapped it out by chapters. From then on I was hooked in the fantasy/adventure genre.         

Now the easiest thing for me to do is probably write it in script form. I see things visually and scripts seem to allow me to get out what I see the quickest. But I didn’t want to do that. Something inside said write it as a book.         

So I brought a writing program to help me organize everything and I got started writing. I got to chapter six and I was pretty happy with what I had. I mean, It was the biggest thing I ever wrote … 30,000 plus words and I wasn’t even halfway through the first book. It was when I got to chapter seven that I realized that the story wasn’t going the way I wanted it to. And although I had taken the time to write a full outline of the story, it was feeling more and more like it was just a big brainstorm. My character arc for my characters was there but the world was not developed enough. I got stuck on a scene that needed background development and when I looked back at the previous chapters I knew I was going to have to start over … page one word one.         

Foundation … foundation … I had to stop and focus on the foundation. I started first by sketching out a map of the world … thank you art classes … and started working on the characters of the story. I hired an illustrator to do some character concepts, yes I have an art minor, but I’m not that good, that’s why it’s just a minor (wink). I began to read. anything and everything that I could. That journey began at least two years ago. Now I have a complete world with more than a half dozen races, with background histories, locations and all. And I love working and creating it. I still go back and tweak parts of it. I might even completely rearrange a section of it, and although I feel like I’m 90% there with it, I still have to complete the other 10% of it before I really get back into writing the book again. Although last week I wrote 2 chapters, in my head, I’ll let it sit there for a while to make sure I really like it. ”        

First MagBook and Birth of Labryinth’s Door         

copyrighted material

During the development of the background for her first novel, this talented woman started developing other stories as well. All of which are fantasy/adventures. And now she is proud to announce that her first finished story, and first MagBook is now published and available for  purchase. It has been an incredible journey getting to this point.         

And one of the rewards out of all of this for her is the feeling of being on the path that she was meant to be on. It is so important to follow your passion. That sense of intense, inner satisfaction that you derive from it cannot be bought or given to you. It has to be earned.”         

In between the time after she produced her first short film, and when she really got into storytelling, Jacquitta worked as a graphic designer. She learnt a lot that will benefit her greatly as she continue to create stories. It was during that time that the concept for Labyrinth’s Door was born. She skillfully used it as a way to bring all of her experience to something she loves dearly.   Cheers, to great adventures….      

Jacquitta’s WEBSITES     

 Worlds to Discover.Com         

Labryinth’s Door on Facebook.Com   

BECOME OUR NEXT WOMAN OF THE MONTH, email us at womantowomansite@gmail.com. Tell us about you so we can celebrate you too!

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2 thoughts on “Woman of the Month: Jacquitta McManus, Bringing Fantasy to Life

    Domonique said:
    October 3, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    These are great accomplishments. That is great that you directed a short film, you should try sending it to various film festivals. I’m in the process of writing a feature film script I and I am trying to connect with other people who are interested in the film industry as well! I am so excited for you! I am looking forward for the next digest! I am looking to collect children books for my future kids!

    children story book said:
    July 3, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    This is great accomplishments.It has been an incredible journey getting to this point.

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