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Making mistakes in your writing

Emma_Clare at 12:00AM, Aug. 27, 2021

Last week I wrote about what you can do when you make mistakes in the artwork of your webcomic. A mistake in the writing is oftentimes harder to fix than the artwork. Foreshadowing and building of the world’s foundations is baked into what you write, so when you finally realise your kingdom is built on sand it can be difficult to relocate it to sturdier ground. This week we’ll be diving into the writing aspect of making mistakes and how a creator can correct them.

Before you start
There are steps you can take to avoid making mistakes later on down the line and it starts with your outline. It’s tempting to jump in and strike whilst the inspiration iron is hot, however by taking the time to get your ideas straight, you’ll be able to manipulate the pace of the drama/action in your comic, any future exposition and identify potential wriggle room narratively speaking. An outline can be as simple as a series of dot point, post-it notes or scribbles on a page. Get all the ideas out first, order them and then begin your comic. It’s a great reference tool for when you’re stuck too. Keep referring back to it and, if need be, make any changes. Remember, an outline can change as you explore your ideas. It’s main purpose is to remind you of what you’d like to see along the way.

Script a scene/chapter/issue
When you go to create a new chapter of your comic, it’s good practice to write a script. Not only will this assist with pacing, it will give you an idea of where cuts can be made to dialog or the outline itself. A script also allows you to pick up on any potential plot holes that might otherwise be missed. Although these steps may seem boring, they can help you maintain motivation during creative lulls as the work has already been done in terms of generating ideas.

Plot hole discovered!
Panic! There’s a plot hole! It’s dragging your entire comic universe into its orbit of entropy! It’s the end of the world! Or is it? Fixing a plot hole is a whole topic in of itself (hmm there’s an idea for another article!) but it’s not the end of the world. Plot holes cover everything from characters acting inconsistently to green cadets with barely any training taking out the big bad. When you come across an inconsistency like this, think back to where you could add more, realistic, context. A good rule of thumb is set-up, reminder and payoff. Set-up the character’s change through small actions or dialog, remind the audience of the set-up then have it pay off in some way. Keeping a list of all the things you’ve set up can be a good way of tracking reminders and pay-offs that need to be foreshadowed in the future.

Ask for feedback
If you’re feeling stuck with your feedback, reach out to people you trust to have a look at your work and make suggestions. This could be friends, family or a webcomic community such as this. Be prepared to hear some hard truths. If you’re feeling like something is wrong they’re probably going to find it. Remember they are the plumber looking for a leak so let them help you fix it.

Have you ever made a mistake when writing your comic? How did you fix it? 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 5:39AM, Aug. 29, 2021

This is exactly why I have a $#/+load of half-finished scripts lying around (some of them typed, some of them scribbled in a block, some of them scribbled on the back of something else) of which I know very well that I will only use one out of twenty, and out of these will follow only a part of them until I suddenly get a better idea. (This is of course assuming that I'm going to draw anything at all again, which for me is still very difficult to get around to, but never say never...) Still, I wouldn't have it any other way. Scripts are great for sifting through ideas for the occasional nugget in a large pile of dung and ironing these out to make them presentable. It's also why I can spend endless hours brooding ove just one paragraph or even sentence. I'm pretty sure that in the final result people will hardly be able to tell the difference to those I made up on the spot, but at least it feels as if it was worth it. ;)

jerrie at 1:27AM, Aug. 28, 2021

I don't write scripts. I write an outline, and as I put things to paper, I fill in spots I left out in my plot outlines. maybe I SHOULD be writing a script! Things might go smoother for me and I wont make so many mistakes

hushicho at 3:54PM, Aug. 27, 2021

I generally like to think of a fundamental problem for the characters to solve, in a chapter (if I'm doing a conflict-based story), and then think of the beginning, the end, and some parts in the middle I'd like to draw or write. One thing I did change over the years is that now, I wait until I have the entire chapter drawn and finished except for dialogue, and then I go back and, usually in one session, letter the comic. This tends to lead to more coherent dialogue for me. I don't write scripts, because I find it demotivating if I know exactly what is going to happen and how, but I can still have some interest if I keep it step-by-step like that. Plot holes need mindfulness to avoid, but I think just trying to organize yourself as best you can, while not overdoing it or obsessively micromanaging, is probably the best approach.

dpat57 at 11:50AM, Aug. 27, 2021

Trying to fix plot holes is half the fun! I take your point though, better planning would make life easier in the long run. But I have the attention span of intestinal bacteria, so I gotta get moving quick and keep things rolling. Every comic I've started, I just made a first page and went from there.

Banes at 9:06AM, Aug. 27, 2021

I've found that doing very rough pages and panels (once i have a general outline of a story) is very helpful. This helps me write dialogue and refine story points. Writing in script form is a step i usually skip for comics. It's just an outline that I write and refine over and over, with bits of dialogue and jokes that I want to use. Once I'm as solid as I can get on the story's ending, I start making pages with panels and some dialogue, with VERY rough sketches. It works for me. Now that I'm playing with 3d art, the process is changing. Not sure what the new process will be!

ChipperChartreuse at 8:21AM, Aug. 27, 2021

I truly admire folks who can go right to art. My brain doesn't process this way, so I have a novel's worth of writing done so far behind the scenes. I'm actually working on editing and tightening it up and I create my comic :) Doesn't mean I won't still miss something! This is a great reminder to be on the lookout for my own plot holes as I go.

Jason Moon at 7:03AM, Aug. 27, 2021

I've never been one to write. I just make up stuff as I draw and incorporate into it what I feel from listening to music. My story is chaotic and violent and I love it that way. Doesn't flow and I'm sure it has many upon many of plot holes lol

bravo1102 at 5:47AM, Aug. 27, 2021

Get some putty and close that hole right up. ;)

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