So there's a lot of talk and discussion on how to approach the creation of your webcomic (or novel, or short story) regarding planning out your plot, the degrees of planning out, and the option of flying by the seat of your pants.
I have done both, both in webcomic format and in novel writing. From going absolutely blank and unaware of what will come out on the page, to absolutely pre-planned and exact as to what there will be.
In this article though, I don't seek to discuss advantages and disadvantages of each method, as this has been done a lot anyway, including the newspost on DD.
What I would like to talk about is what parts of your story will require planning whether you like it or not, and which parts will be optional regarding planning, or even end up being the points where your characters will hijack your plot and run away with it.
First off, it goes without say that planning is required when we're talking about long form stories with a beginning, middle and end. Comic strips and gag strips may not need it as much, as often each strip is a stand alone scene designed to deliver a punchline.
In a long form story, you as the creator will need to decide three basic things that will be unchanged throughout the story, except where you plan to change them yourself:
1. How the hero thinks
2. How the villain thinks
3. How society around them thinks
This doesn't mean actual thoughts and nuances throughout the story. This will come after you plan. What you need to decide here is the method of logic, inference and thinking that your characters will be doing: Is your hero analytical or swayed by whim and emotion? Can they easily see through a logical error (a ruse, a trap) or will they be hard learners that learn after the fact?
How about your villain, are they the type that foresees every eventuality and plans for matching failsafes or are they arrogant to the point of not considering caveats in their plan? Are they calm and controlled or do they flog the sea when it doesn't suit their plans?
Likewise you have to decide how society thinks: what are the norms mainstream goes by? Which things are considered acceptable, what does society value the most, where is it lenient and where is it stern when it comes to judging people and personalities? Will they be lenient to the bad guy if the bad guy is super rich, because the norm of society dictates that the super rich are so due to their intellect, merit or hard work? Or will they be super stern to the bad guy exactly because he's super rich, because the norm of society dictates that the super rich must have done something morally wrong to acquire their wealth?
Once you decide these things, you're ready to plan for your story. The parts you absolutely need to plan are the following:
1. The initial setup (the starting point of the story)
2. The parts where things need to happen ‘off stage’ but will be having an impact ‘on stage’ at some point
3. The parts where things will lead to dead ends, the red herrings and the ruses of the story, along with what is really happening
4. The parts where coordination between characters is necessary OR when the story requires the characters to split up and follow their own ‘quests’ (a la LoTR)
The reason these things require planning is because you need to feel safe that you're in control of the story no matter how long it takes for you to produce the pages in which the payoff of whatever you're having gradually build up happens. Being able to pre-plan will help you see whether there's any gaping plot hole you need to remedy, what might seem a little too far fetched or what needs a bit of polishing to work out smoothly.
If you don't plan for these key points, you risk writing yourself into a corner, and nobody wants that.
If you have managed to plan for them, it's really practically optional to plan for anything else. Your characters (assuming you have created them properly) will act and react and fill out your scenes without effort.
But what happens when your characters completely highjack your story and absolutely ruin your beautiful planning?
That's what I'll discuss next time.
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Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Aug. 11, 2018
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