Friday, January 27, 2012

Tightening Up the Story

In the writing of the end of Return to Eden, I mentioned how the story didn't exactly bloom until near the end.  Nothing wrong with this, of course, as I stated I somehow doubt the comic had this major story until near this point anyway.  If there is a story, though, what is the best way to tell it?  There are no hard or fast rules, and in fact if Return to Eden had been planned to develop the way it did from the beginning, I likely wouldn't find a fault in it.  Still, I do have some guidelines writers and artists should keep in mind while telling a story.

1.  Show don't tell.  I've covered the topic of show vs tell before, but in a visual medium like webcomics, showing should always be a priority.  It is harder than it looks, of course, or everyone would do it properly and it wouldn't be sung as a mantra.  This may mean breaking away from the main characters, or doing a flash back.  This is alright, don't be afraid of it.  Just don't over do it.  Which is the next guideline.

2.  Every word and panel is precious, don't waste them.  Make it count.  Whatever is written and drawn must have a point, and must be important.  Going off on a pointless tangent that has nothing to do with the main story is a waste of time and energy, not just of the artist, but of the reader.  There's also the double threat of either the tangent driving people away from the comic, or even worse, being vastly superior to the main story line.  Either would be a disaster for a comic.  Keep it important to the main story, even if it's not obvious right away.  And finally:

3.  Brevity is your friend.  In this era of the infinite canvas, there's a notion that there should be no limits at all to art.  That's not what the infinite canvas is for, it's for exploring things that would be harder to explore in print form.  Animations, multiple paths and the like are what the infinite canvas allows for, but that doesn't mean the pages should go on, and on, and on forever.  Each page should be quick and too the point.  No sense wasting extra time on things that mean little for the overall development of the story or a particular character.

This also helps keep the overall work load down.  Less time spent on drawing pages of fluff or writing unnecessary dialog means more time working on the important stuff, like showing what happened rather than telling the reader.

Nothing super complicated here, hope it helps.  Until next time kiddies.

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