classic tale of cause and effect!
Our very own Pickle-Face made a forum topic on the Duck, asking people to create a basic ‘cause and effect’ statement on their comic.
The structure goes something like this: Say what happens, and then what the effect is in the story. This is a writing exercise that I've worked with a couple times before, and it was cool to see it in the forum! I wish I'd thought of it, but happily, I have this Newspost to do, so it was a good opportunity to steal her idea and use it here!
Like I said, I've worked with this kind of process with some of the stories I'm putting together, and it's HARD! It's WORK! It makes smoke rise outta my ears. But it's worthwhile. It's part of “preproduction” on a story structure, to see if you know what you're doing with the story you want to write.
An example of the equation: A massive asteroid is detected on course for Earth (cause), and a group of oil-drillers go to the asteroid's surface to destroy it (effect).
To me, I'd add the wrinkle that a well-structured story has to have ACTION by the Protagonist as the “effect” part of the equation. When I wrote that one for Armageddon initially, I wrote it like this:
An asteroid is detected on course for Earth, and the Military sends a group of oil-drillers to outer space to destroy it.
Now this is technically true in the movie, but including the Military detail makes it passive (the drillers ARE SENT) and it overemphasizes their role in the movie; it's not about them; it's about the drillers.
I contributed to the forum (link below) with two of my stories that I thought held up:
When a slacker is brainwashed into fatherly love for a pint-sized agent, he puts his own life in danger to help the cranky lawman in his mission.
-Typical Strange issue “Pop”
When two slackers realize they're living in a comic book, they battle the nasty writers to prevent their own deletion.
-Typical Strange issue “What's the Story”
So, something happens TO the Protagonists, and then the Protagonists DO something.
Like I said, this is hard work when developing a story.
But at least for me, pointing out the failings of stories that are already done is not so bad. It's kind of fun!
So, some other Typical Strange issues that show their story weakness by this process:
When the new boss decides to fire his buddy, a clerk offers a couple weak efforts to change her mind, and to encourage his buddy to be less obnoxious. Eventually things work out by happenstance.
-Typical Strange #1
A local babe dates a shlubby clerk to make her boyfriend jealous. He goes along with it and has a miserable time.
-Typical Strange #2, “My Date With Harley”
Don't get me wrong; I like those stories fine. They got the comic off the ground and they might even be pleasurable to read for some people. Also, they are mostly there to introduce the characters and relationships. Still, they could've been sharpened up a LOT.
Many thanks to Pickle-Face for creating this topic and giving me something to write about.
Is this an exercise you've tried with your comics, or something you'd care to? Do you ‘test’ your story ideas in some other way when you're working on them?
Have a good one!
thanks to Pit-Face:
contribute to the forum thread:
Banes at 12:00AM, April 23, 2020
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