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!
I was listening to an interview with a writer the other day where he said in TV you have to continuously have climaxes in the story. Not at the end of the episode, but nearly every 5 minutes, so keep the viewer coming back after an ad-break. He was saying that there are many cliffhangers in a story to keep the narrative moving forward. They're just not always as 'on the nose. I'm sure there's a way you could keep generating mini-cliffhangers. Hell, why not play to the genre you're dealing with and well the story in 5-page chunks, like the old serials of the day? I don't mean 5 page issues, but every 5 pages have a 'what comes next for our heroes' type thing, only to resolve on the next page; therefore having fun with the previous formula?
Just an idea.
I dunno man; that sounds incredibly difficult. The story DOES contain many twists and turns, or mini-cliffhangers if you will. But to have them at perfectly regular intervals throughout the story could be very tricky. The Teen Wolf book I just did was first posted on the MTV website in 5-page weekly installments, and the writer(David Tischmann) said that it was a killer formulating the story so as to fit neatly into those little five page chunks.
I wouldn't be against it in principal, your idea sounds very cool and you're correct in that it could suit the tone of what I'm going for. But I think I'd only consider doing it that way if it organically fit with the story I've written. If I backtrack and try to force the narrative to fit into such neat little boxes, I could kill the pacing I already have, not to mention that I'd be worried that the telling could become a bit formulaic and repetitive if the reader knew to expect a 'twist' on every fifth pages. Which isn't to say that there's not such an event occurring that often throughout, I'd just be reluctant to regulate the instances to that extent. Food for thought though.
Ah fair enough man, i was just thinking of stuff off the top of my head. I was just listening to a podcast with new writers talking shop. They talk about format at the end. Worth listening to if you're doing a bit of drawing.
Oh, this is the podcast
Just listened to that Dec, very informative stuff.
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