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 403 - Eat yer serial!

Dec 2, 2018

2 likes, 0 comments

This Quackcast was inspired by a newspost by Tantz. There seems to be this prevailing idea at the moment that serialised storytelling is better than episodic style stories. Tantz informs me that it's one of the many Twitterverse controversies! So let me explain what I mean here: Episodic story telling is when most of the story you're telling can be parcelled into the course of an episode: you can have a strong beginning, middle and satisfying conclusion in the course of your episode, whether that takes the form of a comic chapter, a page, a strip, or a half hour TV show. The Serial style has things stretching over multiple chapters or TV episodes. What we talk about in this Quackcast is that it's an utterly false dichotomy: You do not have to have either or, in fact most projects have elements of BOTH at the same time and it's a little foolish to think that one style could possibly be inherently superior to the other since they're just tools for telling a story. It is up to the creator to pick which one is right for their own work and the context in which it's going to be shown.

Episode 393 - Set the scene!

Sep 24, 2018

2 likes, 0 comments

In THIS Quackcast we chat about shots! The kind you get from a camera… Long short, bird's eye view, worm's eye view, high angle, low angle, wide angle, fish eye, close up, ultra close up… You can use them to set the pace of the narrative, increase drama, reveal or conceal elements and so on. Shot types and angles are really important in story crafting. This was based on a newspost by Banes. I was actually IN Athens in Greece sitting next to Tantz Aerine for this Quackcast. It was cool to be in the same place with at least ONE of our fellow casters. Banes was still in Canada and Pit was in London, making a very brief cameo appearance at the very end.

Episode 384 - Brandcast, PR

Jul 23, 2018

4 likes, 2 comments

You may have read about how a conspiracy theorist dug up some 10 year old tweeted jokes by director James Gunn and got him fired from Disney… Well that incident inspired this Quackcast, which is a re-take on the whole personal brand idea that we discussed in Quackcast 289.

Episode 382 - Suspension of disbelief

Jul 9, 2018

4 likes, 0 comments

This week we talk about maintaining suspension of disbelief: the way you have to convince people of the world your story is set in and keep them there. Everything you do is done for that, to convince them your characters make sense and the world works. There's a very mistaken idea that this ONLY applies to fantasy or SciFi. No, it applies to ALL fiction and even non-fiction in the case of stories and jokes from your friends, biographies and autobiographies. You have to maintain a suspension of disbelief in all these things in order to fully enjoy and be a part of the story.

Episode 339 - Communicate With Clothes

Sep 11, 2017

4 likes, 4 comments

Tantz Aerine did a great newspost the other day about how the clothing of comic characters can be used to communicate information and emotions just as much as any other element in your comic making arsenal. And that's what we discuss in this Quackcast! Clothing can communicate state of mind, occupation, status, personality, era, class and a host of other things. Have a listen to our Quackcast to learn more! Gunwallace's theme this week was for RUNRUN - a symphony of urgent electronica. This track wants to get you moving in a linear fashion, faster and faster, rhythmic and regular like the pace of a runner. Run into a bright, white high tech future with RUNRUN!

Episode 335 - Dialoguecast

Aug 14, 2017

5 likes, 4 comments

Dialogue is one of the most important elements for storytelling in most webcomics (there are exceptions). But dialogue is often hard for beginners, writing out imaginary conversations to push stories forward, show characterisation, or expositions are skills that don't come naturally! Banes has given us a helpful newspost on the subject and many DDer's offered their own experiences. In this Quackcast we expand on all of that. Our music theme for the week by Gunwallace was for our featured comic: Kings Club. This is a modern mafia movie soundtrack, starting off eerie and atmospheric and then ramping up the cool and bombastic. There’s traditional theme bolstered by a hard gritty rock techno edge.

Episode 327 - Flashback heart-attack!

Jun 12, 2017

5 likes, 4 comments

FLASHbacks… you have to do them right or they will screw up the flow of your story. That's the theme of the newspost by Tantz Aerine that we stole this podcast topic from. :) Flashbacks can be expository, they can explain story elements and plot to you, they can push the narrative forward in a (seemingly) non-linear way, they can do all sorts of things, but one of the very worst is when they ruin the flow of your story and irritate your audience! That's what we're chatting about today, the poorly handled flashback and how to avoid it! Now let me tell you about that time… JUST KIDDING! Our music theme by Gunwallace this week was Galactic Nebula Race. This is all about speed! Racing, acceleration, hyper-velocity!! Watch those lights fly past faster and faster until they become just a single coloured blurred line… only to see your rival speed past as if you were standing still.


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