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Assembling your outline

Emma_Clare at 12:00AM, Aug. 21, 2020

August is coming to an end which means the deadline for the DrunkDuck Horror Anthology of 2020 is fast approaching. When building a house it’s good to get the foundations down; for comics that means creating your outline. This applies to any story regardless of length. As you're preparing your pitch, make sure you have prepared your outline. The two go hand in hand after all. So today I’ll be going through some strategies you can use to help you develop your outline and prep for your pitch.

Figure out your plot and who your main characters are in a thought dump
When inspiration hits you, it’s a good idea to strike while the mind is hot. Open up a blank page, google doc or grab a stone slab and get to writing anything and everything that comes to mind. Plot points, twists, conflicts, romance, eldritch abominations, whatever is in that brain of yours, get it out and down on the page. Don’t worry so much about the order, that will happen later. Rather this is your opportunity to let the creativity flow.

Grab a post-it and write down key points from your thought dump
Now not every idea will be gold but there’s a good chance a few of them will be glittering nuggets. Pick out ideas that move the plot along such as inciting incidents, plot twists, tantalizing first bumps of the lips; if it forwards the narrative write it down on a post-it. Once done, expand on those points by writing a sentence or two about them. If you want, you can even colour code them. Now that you have all of your puzzle pieces, grab a surface, be it a floor, wall, door or patient friend and begin piecing your story together.

Fill in the gaps
As you’re piecing together your story you might notice some gaps. This is a good thing. Because those gaps, my friends, are plot holes. Take some time to think them over, and see what ideas work. Write out your ideas on post-its and stick them up on the board. Do they work? No? Junk em. Do they look good? Awesome! You filled in the gap. Now it’s time to divide it. Be it chapters, issues or episodes, divide your story up. You’ll want to keep in mind the pacing of your story. It’s important to keep the emotional energy going and maintain the reader’s engagement.

Write down your outline
Once you're happy with your puzzle, it’s time to take it all and immortalise it in a written outline.
Bullet points and colour coding will come in handy later. This is a good time to go back to your thought dump and see if any of the ideas there fit into your outline. Got some good lines of dialog? Figure out where those might fit. Wanna include that cool sword fight? Slip that in too. This will help you flesh out the details now before you start working on your story.

Cut the fat
Now that your outline is looking beefy it’s time to cut away. Have a scene that is falling flat? Get rid of it. Is there a character who turns up only once? Toss them out. The idea is to make the writing process and therefore drawing process as seamless as possible. And that’s it! That is, until you have another idea.

Do you use outlines for your comics? Let us know in the comment section below! And join us on Sunday evening for our Quackchat at 5:30PM(EST)!

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PaulEberhardt at 8:04AM, Aug. 21, 2020

One thing I consciously force myself to these days is to try and start the outline with where I want to go with the story or not start at all. I used to make the mistake of coming up with loads of really good beginnings in the past, none of which I could put to good use, because there's nothing to follow. I'm still deciding whether my new approach works better in the long run, but I've got a strong feeling it will.

PaulEberhardt at 7:45AM, Aug. 21, 2020

I've used thought dumps for ages and they're all over the place. Paradoxically, I found them to be as good a procrastination tool as a way to get back into focusing on whatever it is you're trying to do. They're also great for revisiting your old self and have a good laugh (or cringe), probably much better than a diary. I wouldn't know, because I'm to lazy for writing a diary, but I'm prepared to bet it wouldn't be half as interesting.

bravo1102 at 5:59AM, Aug. 21, 2020

Used to call the "brain dump" brain storming and free associations. Whatever came into the head got written down and sorted out later. Lots of times whole conversations just turn up.

Banes at 5:16AM, Aug. 21, 2020

Sounds like a rock solid approach to me! I do outlines and more or less follow this...I heard of the "thought dump" part only recently and it's handy to get those scattered ideas down, especially for a longer story. Handy for anything, though, to be sure!

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