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Knowing what you Write

Banes at 12:00AM, Dec. 7, 2017
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Last week we talked about “writing what you know” … but how about ‘knowing what you write’? I knew I wanted to do this one as soon as I posted the previous article…just for the title.

In a TV show, series of books, movie, printed comic series, or newspaper strip (and their web equivalents), the audience goes in with some degree of expectation. They've either seen previews, watched or read previous installments, read reviews, or at least looked at the title, poster, or cover image. They have a sense or a vibe, at least in a general, of what they're going to see.

Maybe they just thought the title looked interesting, or the art or thumbnail or blurb caught their eye, or they know the creator in person or online. But once they dig in to the comic, things will start to be established. “The Goods” will begin to be desired.

“The Goods” are the sorts of things your comic sets up its readers to expect. In a mystery, they will expect intriguing questions and revelations. In a comedy they will expect to laugh or smile. In a horror or thriller, they will expect to be scared or unnerved, or to see plot turns and twists that will surprise and excite them.

Maybe it's a tech-based setting, or a magic-based world, or it's about cops and criminals. Or lawyers or doctors.

Maybe it's a plot-oriented series, or a character-focused one. Or somewhere in between.

It's a good idea to have some sense of what you're setting up people to expect in your comic, and to deliver it!

I do think that web comics have more freedom than a movie; they can cover many different types of stories if given enough time. A long running show can do the same:

The various Star Trek shows were able to do action shows, social commentary, funny shows, romantic shows, horror episodes, and political intrigue and courtroom dramas, among other types.

I think most of the episodes would fit into the audiences general expectation, though: there would be some kind of science fiction element and maybe social commentary that would put the characters in peril and be resolved by the end of the show.

Even with modern arc-based series there is audience expectation as far as what type of stuff is going to be seen.

I've done a lot of my own comics by “feel” and based on what I want to see, but even when I haven't considered it purposefully, I think that my comic sets up certain expectations: that it's a comedy, character oriented with certain types of people (low-status slackers) and sticks to certain themes pretty consistently. And bad art. :)

This is the kind of stuff I think about instead of updating my own comic.

Do you know what sort of experience or “goods” you want to deliver to your audience?

comment

anonymous?

Emevsa at 5:53PM, Dec. 7, 2017

Despite it being well into the sci-fi genre, we're a character-driven story. At heart, we're a coming of age story. All the characters will come to learn what it means to get what they asked for. Whether or not they are ready to pay the price is up to them. But having the genre keeps us focused and the story frame for both the audience and ourselves. :)

KimLuster at 8:12AM, Dec. 7, 2017

Killer article once more!! I certainly wanted to deliver some of how I see reality, in that freewill really does exists...somehow (there's strong reasoning that it doesn't in a totally deterministic universe), and that we truly can change our fate to an extent, and even when we can't, we can still rage against the heavens, give the universe the finger of contempt, to not go gently...!!

usedbooks at 4:47AM, Dec. 7, 2017

I like to experiment. It's always about the characters in Used Books, and the arcs are semi-self-contained, so I try different stories all the time. I'm attempting to write a bottle episode, and it is endlessly frustrating. (There are times the story veers a little darker, but it mostly stays in the not terribly intense.)

Tantz_Aerine at 2:19AM, Dec. 7, 2017

In Without Moonlight I want to deliver to the audience an experience of the particular historical time, mixed with some intrigue, messy situations and high stakes that existed. I think the mood sets this up from page one. I hope I'm right!

ozoneocean at 1:20AM, Dec. 7, 2017

I'd hope we're doing pretty well on that score with bottomless Waitress!


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