Today I finished the sixth draft of the outline for the book. I'm very happy with the beginning, middle and end of the story at this point, and have figured out most, if not all of the scenes and sequences. I pitched the story to a few of my buddies a few weeks back, and have gotten to the point where I've jettisoned everything that didn't work, and retained and enhanced the stuff that did.
One thing that's throwing me a smidge though is the act breaks. Not what they are, exactly; that much is very clear. It's more like where they occur that's the dilly of a pickle. How do I have them happen at the exact right moment in the narrative so as to act as natural cliffhangers/issue end points? I've been tackling this script as if it were a movie script, simply because this is how I generally think of scriptwriting in my mindgrapes. If the 'movie' is to be 120 minutes long, then ergo my story will be 120 pages long, which neatly fits 6 issues worth of material, and forces me to zealously seperate the literary wheat from the chaff. This has been working out fine. But the problem with act breaks and climaxes etc in a movie script is that they can happily occur at the organic points in the story without worrying too much about their placement. There are no required breaks every 20-odd pages in a movie, so there is far more scope for choice of positioning. In a comics script, however, this aint the case. As well as figure out a cool, appealing story with interesting characters and a rollercoaster ride of events, you need to somehow neatly position said events so that they peak at the correct positions in the story, ie the issue breaks. Far less leeway. This also somewhat negates the traditional three-act structure of movie writing, although I get the idea that even in movie writing, this is a pliable element, and some great flicks have acts coming out the wazoo.
So as I say, I've figured out the story content, length and quite tight structure, but now I have the tricky task of shifting small elements here and there so that the act/issue breaks fall just so. Niggly. All a very interesting exercise though.
I guess to bypass this entire issue I could simply work on the story as a complete graphic novel, and therby remove the need for specific breaks. But I am loathe to lose the serialised nature of the story, in as much that the tales that I'm trying to emulate and pay homage to were strictly serialised adventures, and that cliffhanger aspect was a huge part of the fun. Food for thought!