New! Would like some advice regarding my extra pages.

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New! Would like some advice regarding my extra pages.

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Wed May 04, 2011 9:45 am

I was thinking about the narrative structure of my comic and looking over some old reviews and got to pondering the first chapter of my comic, which runs from here to here.

Now, I know it's the standard way of the world to look back on your early work and want to change it. Part of my problem though is that I feel like these first 30 pages of my comic are kind of irrelevant and pointless, and may be off-putting to the reader. It's not the art so much as the story being told- the plots generally don't serve much purpose, I don't feel like we gain real insight into the characters that much, and on the whole I just feel like the first chapter (the way it is currently written) isn't necessary and in fact may turn a new reader away.

I am considering the benefits of rewriting and redrawing this chapter, much as it would sting a bit to remove this much work from the comic. I worry that my comic takes too long to get to "anything happening" plotwise; part of this comes from my tendency especially in these early chapters to write vignettes as opposed to longer story arcs.

Perhaps some of you could help me out. Do you think my first chapter has enough value as is, or should I revamp it? I feel that I am too close to the work to know what would be bets right now. Thanks!
Last edited by VeryCuddlyCornpone on Tue Jul 26, 2011 7:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Would like some advice regarding the beginning of my com

Postby Spaceprincess on Thu May 05, 2011 12:34 pm

it is kind of confusing, you jump right in and then jump around, I don't think it starts to fit till you get to the play. I think the problem is you have a large cast and they don't get proper introductions. maybe instead of wholly rewriting it, you could do a preceding chapter that explains what's going on and who's who.
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Re: Would like some advice regarding the beginning of my com

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Thu May 05, 2011 2:06 pm

Spaceprincess wrote:it is kind of confusing, you jump right in and then jump around, I don't think it starts to fit till you get to the play. I think the problem is you have a large cast and they don't get proper introductions. maybe instead of wholly rewriting it, you could do a preceding chapter that explains what's going on and who's who.

Yeah, that's kind of what I was thinking of doing, making an introductory chapter somehow. The reason I want to do away with the chapter as a whole is that I don't feel like it "does" anything, it doesn't really provide any insight into the characters as far as I can see and is basically a Big Lipped Alligator Moment that doesn't really get mentioned again.

The thing with the cast being introduced is that I've written an "opening" to this comic so many times before (most of the ideas were written up long before this comic made it to the web) that I forget where I'm actually beginning, if that makes any sense. Perhaps parts of the first chapter can still be salvaged. I hate to think of throwing the whole thing away and confusing anyone that's already read my comic by just getting rid of what is technically still canon, but I do admit that I am displeased with the way the chapter moves and think I could write up a tighter and more sense-making opening.

There would be a disparity no matter what I do between the art in said rewritten/drawn first chapter and then the chapters that follow, but I can't get myself too concerned over that.

Thanks for the feedback!
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Re: Would like some advice regarding the beginning of my com

Postby McDuffies on Fri May 06, 2011 6:45 am

I don't think there's anything wrong with this chapter. Your writing is smooth and dialogues are clever, so generally it shouldn't be a problem for anyone to read it even if it isn't advancing the storyline in a traditional sence. That's why hollywood blockbusters have no soul - they are written strictly by the traditional writing class wisdom, and in bug budget hollywood, such semi-official guidelines always trump writer's instinct and experience, which serve to tell us how to do away with traditional writing-class wisdom.
You know that there's really no such thing as big lipped alligator moment, it's a category that's beyond the loose-defined. Internet snarkers who watch movies just to find flaws in them may have a use for umbrella term for all scenes that take them out of their comfort zone. Writers have no use for that term. After all, the scene always plays some role, by the very virtue of being a part of the comic it can't be inconsequential. It might not always be the role author wanted, but it at least adds another collor to the pallete.
Like your first act. While it might not advance the story, I think it serves to get us used to somewhat idiosyncratic writing style, to the rhythm and the mood. It does not introduce characters per se, but it lends familiar faces which we later get to connect with. You show the frames, and later fill them out. It's a good choice for a large ensemble cast.

I see that you're like me in that you like your writing condensed, edited tighter. I used to get comments that I was jumping through scenes too quickly. I realised that people are used to the slower, more talkative pace of webcomics, whereas my mindset was on european comic format which (like american graphic novels) demands more space-efficient storytelling. But serialized webcomics borrowed their rhythm primarily from newspaper comics, blessed with no space restrictions and no intention to go over the whole script and do a second draft.
Which of course turns sour when many webcomics just kind of wonder around as the writer struggles with creative crises, or just take forever to finish single scenes.
And this is not without effect on readership, much of whom were introduced to comics through newspaper comics, webcomics, or comic books which share some of those virtues. I feel that an average reader pays less attention to a single panel or page before moving forward - partly because it's a different feel from having a comic book printed in your hands, partly because amount of material on internet is always overwhelming, and partly because they're taught that way reading webcomics.
Your first act is still tighter than most of webcomics out there. It didn't take me long to read it (or didn't feel long) so it shouldn't be a chore to anyone else.

If you're really sticking to removing this chapter, I suggest you leave it on the side as a sort of bonus chapter, and write another first act which would, I presume, be tighter. Though I doubt that you'd manage to properly introduce all the characters in a smaller space without getting tedious. I personally don't see a reason to change anything.
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Re: Would like some advice regarding the beginning of my com

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Wed May 11, 2011 5:50 pm

McDuffies wrote:That's why hollywood blockbusters have no soul

:lol:

McDuffies wrote:You know that there's really no such thing as big lipped alligator moment, it's a category that's beyond the loose-defined. Internet snarkers who watch movies just to find flaws in them may have a use for umbrella term for all scenes that take them out of their comfort zone. Writers have no use for that term. After all, the scene always plays some role, by the very virtue of being a part of the comic it can't be inconsequential. It might not always be the role author wanted, but it at least adds another collor to the pallete.


I suppose you're right. It wasn't really quite the term I was looking to use, I was more trying to determine whether unexplained scenes were distracting or semi-useful. I realize there were things that I should have built up to better but didn't plan effectively.

McDuffies wrote:It's a good choice for a large ensemble cast.


Good to know. Part of the struggle is that I still sometimes write as if I'm working on Band Geeks Anonymous, where, as the title suggests, characters had no names and thus introductions were on a need-to-know basis where you mostly never needed to know. I recognize that names don't get used for some of the characters until their second or third (and maybe more but memory is not clear) appearance. I tried not to do whatever would be the visual equivalent of saying "This is JOSEPH. He has brown hair, and needs a cane because he has bad legs. His brother is at war. He gets angry sometimes and is often mean to his friends," like a six year old might describe an imaginary friend. It's easier to introduce characters when you only need to focus on a small handful of them- not that that excuses me from any mistakes I'd made, but it was me trying to balance a kind of bouncy, quick writing style with giving adequate information.

McDuffies wrote:I see that you're like me in that you like your writing condensed, edited tighter. I used to get comments that I was jumping through scenes too quickly. ...


I get this a lot, both now and in the past. I try to slow things down now that I've been made aware of the problem, but sometimes I feel like I'm plodding along and end up jumping around again.

McDuffies wrote:or just take forever to finish single scenes.


This. Even when I'm writing all disjointed and jumpy, it seems I still can't tell the story as fast as I want to. I start thinking about how long I'm going to be working on this comic (a rough estimate, probably at least ten years) and about all of the different things I want to include and stories I want to tell and I get so impatient, but there's no way to really speed things up further in this medium.

McDuffies wrote:Your first act is still tighter than most of webcomics out there. It didn't take me long to read it (or didn't feel long) so it shouldn't be a chore to anyone else.


Thanks. That's, I guess, what it basically comes down to. I know I have a bitterly short attention span when it comes to webcomics and if something hasn't caught my interest within about five pages I tend to give up. I think I'll check around and see if others share your sentiments, because if it isn't burdensome on the reader (despite being thirty pages, damn) then perhaps it's not that big of a problem.

McDuffies wrote:If you're really sticking to removing this chapter, I suggest you leave it on the side as a sort of bonus chapter, and write another first act which would, I presume, be tighter. Though I doubt that you'd manage to properly introduce all the characters in a smaller space without getting tedious. I personally don't see a reason to change anything.


I'm not quite set on removing it, and part of that is that yeah, I have no idea how I could really squish as much introduction in as I'd like without being trite or going back to the six-year-old-introducing-imaginary-friend syndrome. I think my problem stems from my tendency to rewrite the beginnings of my stories over and over as I work on the rest to make sure things line up correctly- something that obviously works better when the story is just told through text than when the story needs to be illustrated as well. I figure I'll keep adding and removing and tweaking things from this first chapter until the day I die.

Thanks a lot for your thorough input. It is very helpful.
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Re: Would like some advice regarding the beginning of my com

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Wed May 11, 2011 6:34 pm

When I re-read your comic the other day it felt shorter than I remembered honestly. I think that's a good thing when in your viewer's mind the story seems bigger, although I can't quite explain what I mean properly.

I wouldn't worry too much, introductions are the hardest part of storytelling and there are far worse out there in the wonderful world of webcomics (I mean I've seen people bungle the classic "new roomates" intro more times than I can count).

Personally the part of my first book I hate is an introduction/description sequence I added in after some feedback from my pre-readers, I mean the scene works and I managed to turn it into a reflection of how music changes them onstage but it's still not the best since I describe six characters over a page and a half. I would have rather just let the readers figure it out as they go (which I am for their personalities/motivations/etc) but sometimes I need to be reminded that not everyone has that kind of patience.

So yeah I wouldn't stress too much.
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Re: Would like some advice regarding the beginning of my com

Postby McDuffies on Thu May 12, 2011 3:48 am

VeryCuddlyCornpone wrote:Good to know. Part of the struggle is that I still sometimes write as if I'm working on Band Geeks Anonymous, where, as the title suggests, characters had no names and thus introductions were on a need-to-know basis where you mostly never needed to know. I recognize that names don't get used for some of the characters until their second or third (and maybe more but memory is not clear) appearance. I tried not to do whatever would be the visual equivalent of saying "This is JOSEPH. He has brown hair, and needs a cane because he has bad legs. His brother is at war. He gets angry sometimes and is often mean to his friends," like a six year old might describe an imaginary friend. It's easier to introduce characters when you only need to focus on a small handful of them- not that that excuses me from any mistakes I'd made, but it was me trying to balance a kind of bouncy, quick writing style with giving adequate information.

Frankly I don't worry about reader being instantly filled in on everything. I mean I don't believe that everything should be established before the "real" story starts rolling, which is what most of webcomickers to, they always have these introductory chapters that are not supposed to be "real stories", and they often warn readers "bear with me, after this chapter starts the real story" which is, to me, something that has to be solved better. If writer thinks that some part of the story is going to be a chore for the reader, I think that has to be solved better. In most of cases, those introductory chapters aren't wholy neccessary anyway, because writers are often too cautious about not confusing readers, so they give more introductions and explanations than neccesary.
I dunno, I think that a bit of ambiguity gives an air of mystery, of getting into something unknown, and catching up on details that weren't clear the first time is a huge part of appeal of re-reading the comic. Like if you threw your character in a fire before you introduced him right and proper, then reader will have different experience reading for the second time, when he already knows what drives character's actions.
Naturally to rely on devices like this, I think you have to think high of your audience, which is not exactly a recipe for popularity on internet.

I get this a lot, both now and in the past. I try to slow things down now that I've been made aware of the problem, but sometimes I feel like I'm plodding along and end up jumping around again.

I don't think it's a problem, it's a good quality of writing. Perhaps it's only to be adjusted a bit for purposes of writing for internet.

Thanks. That's, I guess, what it basically comes down to. I know I have a bitterly short attention span when it comes to webcomics and if something hasn't caught my interest within about five pages I tend to give up.

I on the other hand rarely ever quit the comic without reading all through archives. I've seen enough comics that get much, much better in their later acts, even when I read a comic with crappy beginning, I always think that maybe it'll get better. On the other hand, perhaps that makes it harder for any comic to attract my attention and get me sto start reading it.

I'm not quite set on removing it, and part of that is that yeah, I have no idea how I could really squish as much introduction in as I'd like without being trite or going back to the six-year-old-introducing-imaginary-friend syndrome. I think my problem stems from my tendency to rewrite the beginnings of my stories over and over as I work on the rest to make sure things line up correctly- something that obviously works better when the story is just told through text than when the story needs to be illustrated as well. I figure I'll keep adding and removing and tweaking things from this first chapter until the day I die.

Beginnings are important, they're the first impression. I always have a feeling that my beginnings are good, but that the story later slumps and becomes regretably less polished.
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A new question

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Tue Jul 26, 2011 7:27 pm

So I spent a few days recently reworking the additional pages on my site, and was wondering if anybody could give me some feedback as to how it looks. I know it's not super-slick or advanced, but is it wretched, is there something I'm oblivious to that DESPERATELY needs to be fixed likenow, or "will it do for now?"

Link for convenience: http://lateralgeotaxis.comicgenesis.com/
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Re: A new question

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Sat Jul 30, 2011 10:47 am

VeryCuddlyCornpone wrote:So I spent a few days recently reworking the additional pages on my site, and was wondering if anybody could give me some feedback as to how it looks. I know it's not super-slick or advanced, but is it wretched, is there something I'm oblivious to that DESPERATELY needs to be fixed likenow, or "will it do for now?"

Link for convenience: http://lateralgeotaxis.comicgenesis.com/


Nothing cries out for attention at the moment, simple is better so I wouldn't stress just leave things until you've got a lightbulb moment.
If you do feel the need to fancy things up, try to keep to some kind of theme related to the comic's setting like an old newspaper or diary or photo album or something would be my suggestion.

PS I do miss the old cast page interview thing.
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Re: A new question

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Sat Jul 30, 2011 1:46 pm

RobboAKAscooby wrote:PS I do miss the old cast page interview thing.


I plan on giving each of the main characters their own additional separate page, where I'll use the interview structure again :) Sure, it won't be right there on the page, but it'll still be included.
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