Episode 416 - Making cuts

Mar 4, 2019

The entire team is here this time, no one was cut… So we're chatting about CUTTING, as in cutting out scenes to make a story cleaner, leaner and less flabby, but also NOT cutting because in a webcomic you don't have to, and when you cut badly you end up with a “D movie” effect where story scenes don't follow, don't make sense and plots seem to go nowhere or happen for no reason.

Topics and Show Notes

In most stories you can cut out lots of bits and pieces and get a leaner, more streamlined result: the reason is that an audience will interpolate the missing information between two factors and create their own rationalisation for the events that lead from one to the other. Often this can get them a little more involved and invested in the story because of it. You can trick them into thinking it's a better, cleverer story than it is because they did some of the hard work themselves. Introductions and long establishing scenes can be cut, but also the “things” that happen between or lead up to something:
A murder for example. You don't need to show how it was done, just the intent to commit it and the discovery of the body the next day.

You have to be careful when you cut too much though because events and motivations will stop making meaningful sense and your story will turn to garbage as the structure begins to collapse. I'm sure we've all seen the DVD special features where scenes were cut to streamline the story and you realise WHY the finished product didn't quite make sense in its final form and that it would have been SO much better if they haven't cut that bit out…

Webcomics are a unique medium: they thrive on content. Commercial products have a lot of boundaries and rules they have to stick within, especially movies, so cutting content makes much more sense for them than it does for webcomics. But it's still an interesting thing to try, especially if you want to make your work more commercial in future, i.e. write it up as a screenplay, release it in 30 page printed issues, or even just go for a more cinematic feel.

Don't fall into the trap of pruning a story just for the sake of one element like “action” though, or because you want to rush from one scene to another. Stories benefit from having variation in the pacing. This is why action movies like Ronin and Diehard are so awesome: extreme action is beautifully contrasted and set up with slower scenes that let you take stock and rest (- https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2019/feb/22/the-action-non-action-ratio/ as in Tantz's newspost last week). The film Van Helsing was well made and entertaining but the breaks between the non-action parts were insufficient, meaning that the impact of the action suffered because of it.

You often hear on DVD commentaries “We cut this part because we thought it was diverting from the main plot” among other rationalisations… Well sometimes that works in film and sometimes it doesn't. Webcomics though often benefit from the freedom to explore side-plots so be careful what you choose to cut.

This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to Aikornia! Double, triple, contrabass, octobass cello! The big guns are coming to play for you now, ushering in the footsteps of doom. It’s like the knight’s dance from Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev, but as if it were written for ents instead!

Topics and shownotes

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Featured comic:
My Cute Wish - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2019/feb/26/featured-comic-my-cute-wish/

Special thanks to:
Gunwallace - http://www.virtuallycomics.com
Banes - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/banes
Tantz Aerine - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Tantz_Aerine/
Pit Face - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/PIT_FACE/
Ozoneocean - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/ozoneocean
kawaiidaigakusei - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/kawaiidaigakusei/

Featured music:
Aikonia - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Aikonia/, by Aikonia, rated E.

Episode 414 - Bad Hollywood

Feb 18, 2019

3 likes, 0 comments

Hollywood has a tendency to simplify or completely alter stories to make them more mainstream and appealing to their idea of a popular audience. In this Quackcast we thought it'd be fun to run with that idea and re-imagine our works for “Hollywood”.

Episode 412 - Hiatusssss D:

Feb 4, 2019

4 likes, 4 comments

A huge thank you to the fantastic Amelius, creator of Charby the Vampirate! We mined her great newspost on the topic of the comic hiatus for this Quackcast. When you're reading a comic and it goes on Hiatus it's an awful thing… suddenly all progress stops and you don't know for how long it will be gone for. Some authors are great, they'll reach a point where they can't work anymore for some reason or they'll take a little break, but they will tell you they're going on a hiatus and when their comic will return- and Lo, it comes back exactly when they said it would. Crappy authors will say they're going on a hiatus and never return.

Episode 410 - Say My Name

Jan 20, 2019

3 likes, 0 comments

Coming up with character names can be a real challenge because once you settle on one they can define the character just as much as their personality and looks! Names also affect how you name other characters: are they too similar, like Betty and Barney? Will it be an unintentionally meaningful combo like George and Washington? There are so many things to consider, it can be daunting. In this Quackcast we talk about some of the methods that duckers have used to come up with character names. It's pretty novel and interesting, anything from using friend's names, names that have special meaning to them, names that have inerrant meaning, names that deliberately have NO meaning, place-holder names, names from the phonebook and more. Your options, methods, and reasons are endless! Tell us what's behind YOUR character names!

Episode 408 - The imitation game

Jan 6, 2019

2 likes, 2 comments

Happy new year! This is the first Quackcast recorded in 2019! Pitface is back too, can you believe it? In this Quackcast we chat about Imitation, based on Amelius's newspost from last Sunday. How do you know if someone has copied your work, just been influenced by it or influenced from the same sources as you, or has actually stolen your work wholesale? And what do you DO about it? Is imitation or someone doing the same thing as your “original” idea, always a bad thing?

Episode 406 - Amateur Vs Pros Merry Christmas DD!

Dec 23, 2018

5 likes, 2 comments

Merry Christmas one and all! And all that stuff. This year our release date falls exactly on the 25th! It was a busy year for us, lots happened. But in this Quackcast what we chat about is something rather different: the difference between pros and amateurs, specifically when it comes to comics. There's this common misconception that an amateur is a novice that will produce work of a lower quality, while a professional is an experienced person who knows what they're doing and will always produce things of the highest quality… The REAL story is more complex than that.

Episode 404 - Strong characters

Dec 10, 2018

3 likes, 0 comments

We mined Tantz's Saturday newspost for our discussion topic: Strong characters and how to write GOOD ones! What is a strong character? Well it has nothing to do with physical ability, power, command, or anything so obvious and trite. Strong characters are well rounded and well realised, they're often active and opposed to reactive, they make things happen, the story hinges on them. Failed attempts at “strong” characters or obvious and often result in Mary Sues, whether male or female. People hand them traits that they THINK will make the character strong: make them a general, make them a great fighter, make them royalty etc. The problem comes when none of that is ever logically backed up in the story. You can't just title a character something or have other characters talk about how great they are without having them demonstrate a reason for it, or else all you have is a pathetic paper tiger and a really shizzy failed part of your story.

Episode 402 - Audience expectations with characters

Nov 25, 2018

3 likes, 3 comments

We're all back together this week and we're chatting about audience expectations for characters versus the intentions of the creator. Which is more important? Well it's a bit of a balancing act… You don't want to pander to your audience because that's not fun and they won't enjoy it anyway, but by the same token you shouldn't just do whatever you feel like regardless. As a creator you build up a contract between yourself and the audience; if you betray that by subverting their expectations with characters in ways that are very “OUT of character” just because you feel like it then you can start to lose their respect and attention. Killing off characters all of a sudden can be a big responsibility too, try not to take that lightly.


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