I have made comics’ storylines both ways- flying by the seat of my pants and meticulously scripting everything. So I feel I’m in a position to say that while both methods are valid and extremely fun, the latter one has one advantage over the former: it can make the dominoes fall when it comes to tragedy.
The basic definition of tragedy is an event or sequence of events causing great suffering and sorrow, great distress and grief to the main characters of a story.
Tragedy comes in many flavours, and all of them can shake an audience to the core. There is nothing more tragic than an unforeseeable event such as an accident shattering the happiness of a young couple or a family; there’s nothing more terrible than winning the fight that makes one’s career only to become paralyzed by a cheap shot.
Only in my opinion, there is:
Nothing is more tragic than tragedy that strikes because the dominoes fell.
What I mean by that is not one event, but a sequence of events that might even be seemingly innocuous or unrelated, but creating such a cause-effect chain reaction that inadvertedly leads to an event that causes the tragedy. The bigger the chain of this sequence of events, the bigger the impact to the characters and the audience- in fact the first domino might have fallen during the very first pages of the comic when everything is just still getting set up.
Just picture it:
The first domino (the first event in the sequence) is probably all but invisible, silent- a seemingly unimportant, innocent, even irrelevant little trifle of an event. But it gives rise to the second domino (the second event brought about or directly caused by the first) which is a little bit louder. And so on and so forth for the next ones, each falling just a little bit more loudly than the one before, until the final domino falls with deafening noise, the tragedy strikes its grim blow, and everyone that thinks back to what happened, will know why it did- including the audience.
That sort of tragedy is a game changer in a story’s plot. Characters will change, situations and stakes will change- and more importantly, each character’s past will change in how it motivates them in the story: the same events that caused a character to behave in one way before, will be the ones that now will cause him/her to behave in another, simply by the fact that the character will be aware they were part of the chain of events that led to the tragedy that changed everything.
In my work, I have used the domino effect for tragedy (as in Without Moonlight) or for happy resolution (as in my fantasy trilogy The Art of Veiling).
In order to do it, I’ve always had to script things down, the timelines especially. I tried doing a domino effect in Wolf, and forgot why I’d set up the first few events… so I had to race to come up with some other resolution for the story because the one I’d originally thought of as I was sketching a page I had irreversibly forgotten. The resolution worked- it was no domino effect, though, and the impact I’d intended was forever lost. Thankfully, that will never happen in Without Moonlight!
Have you ever employed such a domino effect in your work?
Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Oct. 7, 2017
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