Episode 661 - Steaks... stakes

Nov 13, 2023

Stakes are a part of a story. What does a character want? What means the most to the character? What are they after, what do they care about? Stakes can be really subjective like that and they can also be objective and more universal like death, debt, a threat to a home, nation, planet or even the universe. The most important thing though is that you can communicate the value of those stakes to the audience! It doesn't actually matter WHAT the stakes are as long as the audience understands that they're important.

Topics and Show Notes

Sooooo so many writers seem to have zero idea about that. One idea is that you need to “raise the stakes” in order to get the audience to be more invested, which certainly works but what a bad writer will always do is just crudely add onto the objective stakes: “Ten people were in danger but NOW it's 500! But wait… now it's 6000. OMG, now it's a million! Oh wow, the fate of the known universe hangs in the balance!”. The truth is that at a certain point it loses value, we just can't relate very well to bigger and bigger numbers and the “known universe” is an empty concept to most people. To really raise the stakes you have to pick things that the audience CAN care about and/or show that it's really affecting the characters in a way the audience can symbathise with.

If you write it correctly, a character losing their favourite pen can be a tragedy of earth shaking proportions and them needing to get it back can be an epic tale of redemption and self discovery without them ever leaving their office.

The idea here was inspired by Banes' newspost on the Marvel films. They're a great case in point, the higher they make the stakes the less we care. The first Avengers movie was a lot of fun till the end when they were trying to save New York city, fighting hoards of meaningless CGI blobs: “raising the stakes” didn't make things more interesting. It was more engaging when they were talking and just fighting Loki because these were stakes we could more easily relate to. It's a pattern that repeats in a lot of marvel movies and TV shows. Sometimes they get it right, and sometimes they get it wrong.

How do YOU approach stakes?

This week Gunwallace has given us a theme inspired by I wont Marry the General as the Dragon Lords only Daughter - A dense, layered palace of a tune here, it sounds like the theme to a major Hollywood film. We have a lot of body, depth and power to this sound. All electronic. You can just imagine mysterious opening scenes, titles fading into view and flicking of screen as you wait in anticipation for the story to begin.

Topics and shownotes


Inspired by Banes' newspost - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2023/nov/08/mcu-scraps-do-overs-and-to-reboot-or-not-to-reboot/

Featured comic:
Adkien - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2023/nov/06/featured-comic-adkien/

Featured music:
I wont Marry the General as the Dragon Lords only Daughter - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/I_wont_Marry_the_General_as_the_Dragon_Lords_only_Daughter/ - by ShriekingMagpie, rated A.

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

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Episode 638 - Rookie Mistakes

Jun 5, 2023

3 likes, 0 comments

Beginners at webcomics make mistakes, rookie mistakes. In fact people tend to make a lot of the same mistakes and we're going to chat about some of those in the Quackcast, but there are certainly a LOT more!

Episode 628 - Cover me!

Mar 27, 2023

3 likes, 2 comments

We're talking about the importance of a good cover in this cast. Another technical comicscast! I love making coves, they're one of my fave things because I get to stretch my artistic muscles and get a little more flashy and creative with my art and graphic design. They can also be pretty dread things to work on when you've used up all your creative powers on your actual comic and have nothing left over…

Episode 600 - AI is bad at art

Sep 12, 2022

3 likes, 6 comments

here's a lot of buzz about so called AI generated art at the moment using programs like Dall-E, Neural blender, Dream studio lite and so on. People use text prompts, i.e. “flying clockwork fish balloon” and the AI generates “art” based upon that. It usually does this by using actual art and photography created by real people, and visually mixing them to create a new image. Some results are much better than others.

Episode 597 - Revelations!

Aug 21, 2022

4 likes, 0 comments

Today we're talking about a technique in storytelling that we're calling the “revelation”. Inspired by Banes doing an article on the weird trope in movies of having a character discover newspaper stories about the villain that suddenly reveal the true stakes of the story and kick things into high gear. There are other types of revelation in stories though and they're used in different ways.

Episode 595 - Oversold to the Moon!

Aug 8, 2022

4 likes, 2 comments

How do you describe your work to sell it to people? Writing blurbs is a real skill! You generally have to avoid doing these four things: Underselling, Overselling, Selling the wrong story, or Revealing too much. It's quite a tricky balance to master. I've been writing feature blurbs for comics here on DD for many years now (about 16), so I've developed a technique but even I haven't mastered it!

Episode 583 - Why is it bad?

May 16, 2022

2 likes, 0 comments

Spoiler- we don't actually talk much about Yu-Gi-Oh! But I feel it's a good example of a pretty bad a so-bad-it's-good story, but bad nevertheless. The idea we're talking about here is that it's useful to look at bad stories and stick with them because they can really help you write better. They're a lot more useful than good stories because you'd rather just enjoy those and it's a bit harder to examine them for technical details, but with “bad” stories the faults stand out strongly. Instead of simply dismissing a bad story or making fun of it, it's more useful and valuable to try and “fix” it: try and work out why it seems bad and think about what would be needed to make it better, then think about how that applies to your own work. Maybe you're actually making many of the same mistakes?

Episode 543 - Men writing women writing men writing hilariously badly

Aug 9, 2021

3 likes, 0 comments

Angela frowned in disappointment. Her boobs seemed to grimace in displeasure, nipples pulsing with abject fury. As she walked the heaviness of their bounce echoed her anger. She sat down at her desk, opened the document she had been working on and began to type. She was halfway through her romance novel, “Pirates of pleasure”. Her boobs swelled and seemed to glow, echoing her happy mood as she worked. She typed…

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