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Starting your Webcomic Part 4: Diving Into Your Script

Started by TakaComics, February 15, 2010, 12:57:06 AM

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This week, I'll be discussing the one thing us writers always have a problem with. You have this great idea, with interesting characters and a cool world. Then your pen goes to the paper (or fingers to the keys), and...


...What happened? Where's that great idea? It's not coming out! This is how you start your script.

A little reminder: I am a story writer. For comic creators with comedic comics, you may not get much from this article. However, I hope you can get at least something.

What I'd like to talk about is the three places to start writing from. "But Trevor," you might ask, "you start from the beginning, right?" Well, you are correct. Or, a third correct.

You have at least three important parts in your story. And you can write from all three of them. I will call this "Ripple Effect." Writing backwards is just as important as writing forwards.

1.The Beginning

This is where most people start, as it is the place where most readers will start, unless they like spoilers! When you write from the beginning, you tend to evolve your story over time. You might add a character or change a scene you had planned. This works great for a webcomic, because you might get to a point where your writing is much better, and you want to change the ending or an important plot point. However, you want the "ripple" to affect your characters' back stories and even the world's story. These are your "Who? What? Where?" things that define your setting and characters.

2.The Climax

This is where you see the "ripple" the best. When you write from a climax, you can write both ways and have each part affect the other. Lets say that your story has a Mac Guffin which the bad guy gets a hold of. You have a choice as a writer now: Do you want to write backwards and describe the plot up to this twist, or write forwards and show the resolution? Writing forward allows you the ability to set up foreshadowing, and writing backwards allows you to plan for a callback or even another twist! (That's not the Mac Guffin, this is!) I always think of the scene from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, where Bill and Ted try to get to their history report, and use the time machine to set up different traps, but only after they get in trouble  in the present day (i.e: "Trash can!").

3.The End

The end of your story might not be able to have a "ripple" at first glance, but your world has not ended, even though the story has. First off, this allows you to fully set up foreshadowing in the previous plot points in your story. You could possibly make every important plot point another clue for the reader, like your standard murder mystery. The author of a mystery must know the ending before writing the beginning. If you don't know who did it, how will the characters know? But if the story is only going one way, it really isn't a "ripple." This is why you add a place for the world to exist after the story has completed. For example, if you wanted everything to "return to normal," you have to set up what normal is. If you want the world to be forever changed, you have to state what your world was before. History stories do this well, as we know what happened afterward. Sometimes, the beginning is the end, and you have the story told in flashback.

Thinking about your story as a whole, rather than just flying by the seat of your pants, will make your story better and more well-crafted.


One of my greatest regrets is that I did not start my comic in media res, which I feel would have been a vast improvement. Having an explosive first few pages is one of the most important things you can do, especially if your comic/story is heavily plotted. (J. K. Rowling got away with a terrible first chapter to her first book, but you're not Rowling.)

Start with a battle, or a tense moment, or the best writing you can pull out. The first few pages are the hook. Get to your premise fast, and get people invested. You'll be forever stuck with however you begin (unless you pull the oft-deadly reboot), so focus it!


Some of my best work has come from completely winging it.

That being said, knowing what you're doing or at least a general idea of where you're going is really, really, REALLY helpful.


Several fantasy authors (of the novel variety) that I have talked to say they craft their stories from the ending first. They need to know the destination before they start the journey, I guess.

The creation of my own story was haphazard and rambling. I suppose the best comparison I could make would be to say I started from the middle and worked outwards to both ends. Definitely not the easiest way to do things.  ;)


I generally get inspiration for a beginning, then get a pretty good idea for the end.  It's the middle that I have trouble with.  I get ideas for certain events to take place somewhere in the middle, but it takes some effort to figure out how to properly connect them.  Of course for my own webcomic I've changed my original ending to instead become a sort of turning point, so I suppose that's my middle now, but again there's still a lot to put inbetween that I have to figure out.


I think it's best to start at the end and work your way back. Especially if you're a character-centric writer and have a hard time wrapping things up.

My current project actually started with a couple of sketches, which turned into a ton of sketches and a vague storyline idea, which I've been fleshing out as I draw. Um, as you can see, I'm much more of an artist than a writer.

Please don't feed the ancient deities.


What if you don't have a planned ending to your comic, though? I don't. I have an ending to an arc, but the story itself is open-ended and intended as being serialized.


Quote from: TheCow on February 15, 2010, 12:14:03 PM
Some of my best work has come from completely winging it.

That being said, knowing what you're doing or at least a general idea of where you're going is really, really, REALLY helpful.

I agree wholeheartedly. I find knowing what you're doing to be a far superior writing practice than the alternative.


Even so, your arc is it's own story in your world. Plan your arc from one of the three main points of that story, otherwise you might end up with continuity issues and plot threads to go nowhere. In other words, Final Crisis...and Countdown...and DC as a whole...