Monday, October 27, 2014

Some Additional Tools

There are a number of ways to strengthen your story. Some of these are straight writing, others require some assistance from the illustrator. Although they may seem a little subtle, you need to keep in mind that your dedicated fans will usually pick up on it eventually, and even start seeing it in places that it wasn't placed, at least not intentionally. I know you are told to not overestimate the stupidity of your audience, but that just means that you would be surprised when you give them a chance. Here are three ways to take advantage of that intelligence, and have some fun with it.

Running Gag: An example is that the good guys keep running across the same guy and kick his butt every time; eventually he joins the good guys. However, it does not need to be an actual joke, but it can also be just a recurring event. It's better when the event builds or there is obvious foreshadowing, such as someone tracking the group who keeps showing up just a few minutes after the group goes through. A good rule to follow is the Rule of Four: The first three times it happens it goes off the same way, but the fourth time it happens there is a twist.

[Yeah, I know about the Rule of Threes, where the limit for a recurring event is three times in one story. This is a modified version of that, where the event repeats three times, but here there is that twist on the fourth event.]

For example, A stalker keeps missing the group by a few minutes, but the fourth time it happens he helps the group out of a mess. Or the teenage romance: Two teens keep having problems on dates, but the fourth time the date goes off without a hitch. There is also when someone keeps screwing something up, but finally figures it out. This can be a great way to introduce characters as well as build up an event.

Recurring Symbol: Here's where you get to use that dramatic irony thing. If you want to build up some suspense, introduce a symbol that shows up but that only the readers really have the opportunity to see. Once the hero makes a good or safe decision, one that moves the story along, the symbol shows up. Of course, you can have another symbol that only shows up when the hero screws up. Your audience will have a different  reaction based on which symbol shows up, allowing you to ratchet up the level of suspense or relief from the audience. As long as you don't abuse it, you can actually have some fun messing with your audience a little while giving them information the hero doesn't, making for some interesting situations.

Color Palette: Each character and faction in your comic will probably have certain colors associated with it. Not only will they wear them, they are likely to decorate their territory with those colors as well. Your colorist can use them to define those same areas when it comes to the character, which gives you the ability to add some emotional relief or suspense to the situation. You can also add a character to the scene without the character actually being there just by throwing some of his colors around. If you're dealing with black and white, you can substitute shades if there are a few characters or factions, but you can easily substitute symbols of the character or faction for the same effect.

Between the Rule of Four, recurring symbols, and color palettes, you can create some interesting situations as well as have some fun with the comic.