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Beginning your plan!

Emma_Clare at 12:00AM, Oct. 12, 2018
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When it comes to creating stories or comics you get one piece of advice that is now standard and that is, when it comes to making a story, you’ve got to plan it out. This means creating an outline, doing thumbnails, correcting and editing dialogue and creating pages in bulk. That is ideal yes, but often we just want to get in there and go for it! We want our shiny idea out there for all the world to see!

For some time, particularly when I was younger, I winged a lot of what I was creating. I would have a rough idea of where I was going but I never had a script. Honestly, it was improv all the way and I enjoyed how much the work would surprise even me. But as I have become more serious about the stories I want to tell and after numerous dead ends due to stories suddenly not making sense, I realised, much to me chagrin, that there was a reason behind the old adage, “PLAN YOUR DAMN COMICS! Geeeezah!” A plan helps you in one major way, (there are many more but this is the one I want to talk about).

A plan pushes you through pages when you have no idea what to do next.

When you get to your drawing board, having a script and pages ready to be put into action helps you so much, particularly if you have been away from your projects for some time. You need to plan, not for the good times when ideas are flowing, but for the times where it will, inevitably, become a chore, (and this will happen!). This week I will be going the first part of how you can begin to workshop an idea from conception to pacing it out ready for work.

When you have an idea, rather than jumping straight into creating pages, take a step back and workshop it. Sit down and write out the entire outline. Mind dump it! Once it is out of your head, take a step back for a few days before coming back and looking at it. This is when you’ll know if the idea was good and you can work with it, or if it was just a 3am ramble.

Once you have a solid outline, then decide how long you want your project to run for in terms of chapters or issues and then how long each chapter or issue should be. By seeing how much work it’ll take to churn it out, it’ll give you an idea of how to plan it out in a time frame that suits you. Also, throughout this stage, aim to cut about 10% of your story. When you force yourself to cut you begin to see what is and isn’t necessary.

From there, plot your outline over each chapter or issue, working out the pace of arcs and action so that the story does not drag out. Your aim here is to create emotional ups and downs to keep the reader moving through the story. By the end of each chapter you should have created enough build up to get the reader to the next. This does not necessarily mean creating a cliffhanger each chapter, but it does have to have moved the story forward and provide reasons for someone to keep reading.

Next week I’ll go through creating good dialogue from an outline for a script and how to pace it over thumbnails ready for production. In the meantime, how do you plan your story? Do you even work with a plan? Let us know in the comments below! And join us on Sunday evening for our Quackchat at 5:30PM(EST) where we’ll be talking about this topic!

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Till next week!

comment

anonymous?

usedbooks at 5:45PM, Oct. 12, 2018

I tend to work a handful of arcs at a time. I have an idea for a section climax/arc that changes things significantly. Then I arrange the episodes in an order that most logically progresses. I write in script form first, often with fragments. Then those fill out into episodes/chapters. Since I now have a finale I am working toward,,all my episodes are getting more deliberate and game-changing. (Each arc/episode has a list of objectives/changes that I keep in mind throughout revisions.)

Banes at 12:37PM, Oct. 12, 2018

Great article!

Banes at 12:37PM, Oct. 12, 2018

The story I'm doing now is about half-winging it and half planned. Usually I plan more but I wanted to break my hiatus! But there's always lots of rewriting of dialogue when I'm looking at the rough pages of stick figures and panel breakdowns. When I'm looking at that I can figure it out much better than looking at a script.

JaymonRising at 11:18AM, Oct. 12, 2018

Yup, acting is reacting. Good writing is good rewriting. Good drawing is good redrawing.

RobertRVeith at 9:15AM, Oct. 12, 2018

Each story begins with what I call a "jam." This is a musical term (I am also a musician) involving improvisation around a theme or a written score. If I have an idea for a story, I'll jam on it. I'll write everything I know about it. I'll put down the "must have" scenes and emotional beats. But I'll also see all the plot holes, and I'll double back on the story if I get a better idea. I jam on the story several times, referencing the earlier jams the way a jazz musician references previous takes of a song. Eventually, I'll come to the definitive version (no remaining plot holes… excellent emotional beats), which gets turned into the script for the comic. Then, when I'm actually drawing it, I throw out the script (again, like a jazz musician), because I respond to things that happen in the art and that causes me to change the story flow. (this actually sounds crazy, doesn't it? Why can't I just plan a straightforward story?)

bravo1102 at 7:55AM, Oct. 12, 2018

No rules, just writing. 😁

JustNoPoint at 6:44AM, Oct. 12, 2018

I've set up a limit for chapters (issues) and I have them split up in seasons. 1st half and 2nd half. Each season I attempt to keep at 30 issues if possible. I outline what each season needs to accomplish. I know I have 6 seasons and a finale special series after that. The further out I go the more vague I try to be. I'll dump things down but I know it may be a lot different by then. The current issues I plan out issue by issue. 1st I write what each issue should accomplish. Then I flesh out the script for the next issue I'll be making. I then make thumbs. The page count may change from the script because sometimes I need more or less to fit everything in. I won't script the next issue till the thumbs for this one are finished as things could change. From thumbs I add pencils on top, then lettering, inking followed by coloring. Rinse and repeat.


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