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Looking in the Mirror

Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Oct. 16, 2021

It's that turning point in your story.

Something grave has happened, and your main character is having to face a defining moment. A moment where they need to really look inside themselves, and weigh their options of who they are, who they want to be, and what it will take to get there.

It is a moment of contemplation, of powerful emotions, of pivotal change. Unfortunately, often such a thing happens without any capacity for actual dialogue or even interaction with others. People contemplate about who they are and whether they need to change course in their lives in private rather than with someone else (unless they're in therapy, but that's a different situation and a different trope).

And while in a novel that isn't much of an issue, since thoughts and emotions can be described without the need for dialogue, when it comes to webcomics or movies, a silent scene poses a challenge.

One way is to tell more than show: get the character sitting in a chair or something, and go to town with thought bubbles. This can work, but it can also come across as ‘wall of text’ or generally less interesting or too static.

Or you can use a mirror.

A character looking in the mirror is a solid illustration of exactly what they are doing: contemplating about their own self, situation, direction, existence.

A ‘look in the mirror’ scene can be very powerful. How the character reacts to their own reflection can get across how they are feeling a lot more efficiently than a diatribe in a thought bubble. It can be a subtle reaction (a simple aversion of the eyes like they can't hold their own gaze, smirking at their reflection, cringing, etc) or a super dramatic one (spitting at their reflection, punching the mirror, etc).

Either way, it will tell the viewer a lot about the emotional and mental state of the character and how they feel about their own self in just a few wordless panels- or the bubble real estate can be used for other dialogue, making the scene even more organic.

Of course, the mirror doesn't need to be an actual mirror. A still body of water, some random reflective surface, the ever-popular polished sword blade, anything that can provide a reflection can serve as a means for the character to wordlessly display how they feel about themselves.

Have you ever used a mirror scene?

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cdmalcolm1 at 5:09AM, Oct. 19, 2021

I didn’t do a mirror per say, but I did do one for “Heroes Alliance”, a kind of reflective moments with Bombshell as she walks and interacts with the war room of HA Headquarters. View here:

PaulEberhardt at 8:26AM, Oct. 17, 2021

Last time I actually managed to do anything at all it was a magic mirror. I went a long way to avoid drawing too many or too little reflected parts, because there's always a risk that they look a bit off, no matter what you do. Mirror scenes are cool, though. I've never quite understood why a simple mirror can create such an intense, near-magical moment, but it works. Must be the unusual point of view or something.

usedbooks at 3:53AM, Oct. 16, 2021

I hate drawing mirrors, so probably not. XD My self-reflecting characters tend to talk to a pet or to someone who's asleep or to an inanimate object. Speaking openly to someone/something that not only won't but can't share secrets feels like a natural outlet for expression and contemplation. I have done silent contemplation scenes too, but usually just a character staring forward or down or at a significant object -- scene viewed bird's eye or cropped to show body language.

bravo1102 at 2:35AM, Oct. 16, 2021

I'll have the character stare into space or even the camera in contemplation. Looking into the distance, not at the reader. Somewhat difficult to do mirrors in the medium I work in.

Andreas_Helixfinger at 12:21AM, Oct. 16, 2021

Well, I guess the last panel in page 49 of Molly Lusc, when we see Molly's face in the rear-view mirror when she gets into her car and drives off, realizing that her soon to be ex-husband Nico won't forgive her for what she did behind his back, count as such a scene. She says nothing throughout the whole page, she doesn't have any inner dialouge whatsoever, we just see her expression crumble from panel to panel into deepest sadness in the last panel. On her face reflected in the rear-view mirror we see that she has genuine, deep regret over what has happened and is heart broken, realizing that she can never fix this, never go back to how things were. Her life won't be the same from here on out.

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