OUTSIDE THE PANELS #14: Four Issue Goals of Comic Writing

Being a writer, artist or even creator of any form means we see and do things a bit differently than everyone else. There are some things we do that people who aren’t creators just don’t understand.One great example of this is the fact that we live in our heads.
Not every creator is lucky enough to work on their projects as their main source of income. Most creators, like myself, have regular day jobs that require us to be attentive on something other than our projects for eight to ten hours a day. Although, this may be the case, something we do do –ha! I wrote “do do”!– is live in our heads and think about the projects we are working on.
Let’s say I’m in the middle of writing a comic script. When I write at night it’s usually a culmination of all of the  things I thought about for that script throughout my day. I try to crack stories throughout my day so when I get in front of the keyboard at night I am straight up writing. All the haggling of plot and lines of dialogue usually comes to me while I’m working, driving, or just hanging out with my family. I take mental notes and then at night, when I’m in front of my laptop, I just bang out the script pages.
I don’t typically sit down to plot a story or world build, I like to leave things like that organic. I usually figure out where a particular issue should start and where it should end. Before I sit down to write an issue of a comic I always think about four things: purpose, climax, end-goal and a cliffhanger. Those goals can also be referred to as “story beats” and while I don’t know the whole story before I sit down, I always keep the issue’s goals in mind when writing. That’s my way of maintaining pace a structure while I am writing and creating organically.
Let me explain using the story, Three Little Pigs (“3LP” for the duration of this entry) We all know it, so it is easy to explain. To explain my four goals let’s say we are writing the 3LP as a two-issue story and we are writing 3LP Issue 1.
In this first issue of 3LP three brother pigs find out that there is a wolf coming to eat them. They all react by building their own house to protect them from the wolf. Pig One builds a house out of hay because he doesn’t have to pay for the hay because his friend grows it and will let him have it for free, plus he is lazy and doesn’t want to lift anything heavy. Pig Two doesn’t mind a little bit of hard work so he builds a house out of sticks because sticks are cheap and get the job done. Pig Three goes to the bank to take out some money from his savings account, then he goes to Home Depot to buy bricks and cement so he can make a nice sturdy house. When the wolf comes into town he blows the house of hay and the house of sticks right down and eats those two pigs. When he gets to the third house, made of bricks and cement, he can’t blow it down and he dies from a heart attack. Pig Three survives and now he has a great house to live in… Maybe that’s not exactly how the story goes, but this is my version so that’s how it goes.
So, now let’s use my goals to set up the first issue.
PURPOSE: This where I figure out the reason for writing an issue. In the 3LP, the purpose is to show readers the personality of each pig and how it translates to the houses they build.
CLIMAX: The climax of my first issue would be Pigs One and Two completing the building of their homes and preparing for the coming of the wolf.
END-GOAL: This is the point I want to get across with this story. My end-goal here, in this issue, is to make the reader come back for another dose in the next issue. I’m trying to build suspense and give a reason for the reader to care about the cliffhanger. (segue–I hope you read that right, it’s a funny word to see and read correctly)
CLIFFHANGER: My cliffhanger would be the wolf getting into town and seeing the three homes in the distance. Hopefully, this little cliffhanger would be enough to bring readers back to me in the neck issue.
I’m not saying that this is what other people should do, I’m just saying this is what I do because this is what works for me. Maybe, if you are looking to fix something in your process this could help you.
Good luck, everyone!

Sal Brucculeri

@SalveyB, cunexttues.com, soulmen.launchrock.com, salbrucculeri.com, aa88press.com

 

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