Storytelling

Writing A Webcomic

Creating & Marketing A Story

This is my outline on writing, designing, and marketing a web comic. You can expect me to go through a few different ways to come up with a story, develop a plot create relatable and realistic characters, and even some tips on adding twists and how to start thinking as a writer. I also go into how to market and how to plan out a schedule, with more tips on how to create productive breaks and make the most out of your time and energy when it gets hard.

 

What I Will Cover:

 

Click to go to specific subjects.
But
I highly recommend you read the beginning first though, the rest doesn’t mean much if you don’t have an understanding of what it means to be a writer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thinking like a real writer means seeing the world and your life through the lens of a storyteller.

Before I start, this is the most detrimental thing to writing.

If you read any of this, this first section is the most important of all. Learning to see the world as a writer is hands down the best way to learn to write. Anything after these first two pages is useless without this first part.

 

I am a really passionate writer, but it took me a lot of pain and a lot of learning to get me to a place where I can see the world through the beautiful scope I see it through today. The process involved me losing friends, losing respect, completely relearning who I am, later, facing intense conflicts with family, and finally, a spiritual lesson I had to fight tooth and nail through. I won’t give the entire tale here, but my journey has brought me to a place I can say; there is power in a story, and you have to learn to weild it, otherwise it will turn against you. Stories can separate people, including yourself. There’s a reason it’s so tempting to hide away in a book. If you are genuinely passionate about writing for a career, you will learn the many facets of power in storytelling.

 

First and foremost, I want to say, writing is NOT just creating a world to escape too.

Accept this reality right here and right now: Your stories will never be more than stories.

Now, there is power to a story. A really, really great power. But a real author knows what exact power their story carries. They know their story is not a real event that happened, and the world they created is not existent and never will be, you will never truly visit it or know it. 

But there is still an incredible amount of power to it.

The power of a story is so much more real.

You live in the best story of all- this real world. 

The first step to learning the true value of your story is learning the value of the one you live in right now.

So don’t use writing as an escape.

Trust me. 

I’ve lost a lot of friends, a lot of time, and frankly, if you believe in that kind of thing, a lot of spiritual goodness as well. I had to learn a really hard way, that writing as an escape from your boring, and maybe even very painful reality is only going to make things worse for your mental health and your state of being.

But, my own trials have taught me something I can tell you here, that storytelling is truly and wonderfully an amazing gift from God. When you use your stories as something that relates to the real world, that pulls the reader in and relates to them, and even more so teaches them or opens their eyes to something in their own lives, you have done an incredible thing. The power of storytelling is that you have the attention of the mind and heart of an individual reader- and a path right through their emotions and their capacity for relationships, an ability to open them up to possibilities that can show them more about the beauty of the world they live in.

Why would you ever toss such a gift out? Use it for anything but for the service of others? Why escape to some fictional and ultimately lifeless world in your head? The stories aren’t real, the only real thing about a story is the relationship you develop with your reader, and the lessons, ideas, and emotions you have to share with them. Every story comes and goes, loses followers, subscribers- but what stays is the effect you had on your reader.

So write with others in mind. Write with your message in mind. Don’t waste your time writing to hide away from reality. Let reality be your very inspiration. Let your darkest hour be the inspiration to your hero’s journey. Let your tears of joy and your tears of pain be the blood, sweat and tears that drive your story. Your best days and your worst days are the light and the dark times of the story you live in today. What would a strong character be without their powerful backstory? What good would a character be to a story if they didn’t have the harsh experiences behind them? 

See your life as you are a character in a story. Down to the way you physically look, you are a character designed by the greatest author of all, put into a masterfully developed world that was built to grow you. Imagine God himself has concept art of you, renderings and final illustration among the pages of something like a graphic novel. Christian or not, I still believe this is a great way to see your life anyway. You were made to learn, the human mind was crafted over all of mankind’s existence to adapt and improve. So be of open-mind and accept the world you live in as the most incredible story of all. Let the words you write be almost a fan-fiction of the universe, let your music you listen to be the music playing behind each scene of your life, let the reflection in your mirror be the beautiful design The Author made, exactly made as a beautiful creation. Not every character is perfect, in fact, no good character is perfect. Accept all for your flaws inside and out as quirks the author enjoys about you, that the audience- the people around you- love about you. What they would leave in the comments- “I love the way their teeth point in!” “That double chin when they laugh is so cute!!” It’s that giving trait that sets that character apart as something great, see your “flaws” are what make you beautiful? Let your favorite memories be your favorite chapters, and see the hardest times as that part of the story where you overcame the obstacle, defeated the dragon, or escaped the vicious place you once were. See and examine just how it formed the aspects of your personality that you have, even the anxiety that you may now face after you escaped the dungeon- let it be a story of overcoming that struggle- how much stronger will you be? You’ll be that much closer to who you are, who you were designed to be.

So, writing and drawing complement to your life, they don’t complete it. Don’t run to your world in your head to hide when things get hard, run at your life’s story head on. Find your plan, or simply just stand in the rain and take it with dignity and strength, even when it’s so hard, and you wonder how you could possibly do it. It’s that moment you become stronger. So become who your meant to be. Don’t hide. A protagonist doesn’t hide. They take the call-to-action and they go after what they are called to do.

Let your stories be inspired by your own story. Let your life teach you. Maybe your own actual experiences or just the themes, values, and relationships you have in your own life. Your writing will improve, I can guarantee you this. This view on life lifts the limits off of your ability to write, and improves them more as you grow and experience new chapters of your life. It opens your eyes to the love of a real story and you’ll become enthralled with the way an adventure twists around into an exposition, climax, and resolution. Then finally, you will fall in love with your own life, at its ugliest and at its best.

So, without further ado, here’s a bit more of the logistical aspects of writing, and a bit more on how to actively put this into action. 

Plot

Finding Inspiration: The Image

The Image: Songs, Prompts, Images, Artworks, What-Ifs, Themes, Personal experiences, even other literatures, and history.

Because I write and my little brain is always on full blast, there’s always a little idea spinning around in my head, and I think a lot of people who write are this way. But, what I usually do when I decide I want to write a story on the spot and I don’t have an idea right of the bat, is I literally put my music on shuffle and pick the first song I get. I like music in particular for myself because music really connects with me visually, I’d say almost more than visual art does. I get very clear images and feelings in my head with almost every song I hear, and my favorite songs are more dictated by the image they put in my head and less the sound (although that does play a huge role in the way that image looks). If that doesn’t exactly work for you, that doesn’t mean anything except music just doesn’t connect with you the same as it does with me. You are likely different than me, so maybe you can also scroll through images on google. Literally look up prompts. You can think about your own personal experiences, other literature, (another strong one for me, evident by Lonely Awake’s strong inspiration from Sleeping Beauty, Last Man on Earth, and The Once and Future King.) Try looking at history and Politics. It’s a matter of finding what tends to give you the strongest image to get started. 

What is this “Image?”

The “Image” Is sort of like the birth of your story. The major feelings and aura of your story. It is sort of like a mood board. Now, it will develop over time, and it will become stronger, but it starts at the image. This is sort of the “Image” I developed for Lonely Awake. Now, keep in mind, I never officially made one of these for Lonely Awake in specific, just because I had the idea for so long it was already so developed in my head, but I often do this with most of my other stories, and I draw out exactly what’s in my head too. A lot of this is in my head anyway, and you may find it is yours too, so it’s not exactly necessary to physically put this together unless you feel like you aren’t fully sure of your image yet, or maybe if you are presenting your story. But to use my story as a reference, here is how it connected to me and where I gather the inspirations from.

An image is made up of:

  • Some sort of visual accent that defines the tone.

    Colors, patterns, etc. Especially for visual stories, this will play a key role in contributing to the originality and recognizability of your story. For Lonely Awake, I wanted to match my already bold colored style and my large round shapes with a simple pastelish palette, I wanted something easy-on-the-eyes, with a small amount of detail in my characters and backgrounds for the sake of speed and simplicity, and to help my readers pick up what they are reading without having to analyze each panel too closely. I also decided I wanted to let the more intense and important scenes be characterized by their own particular palettes and my more action packed scenes by one color, like purple or green. For the general story, I carried on the simple bold graphics and went with a soft, but warm off-white that worked with and Eva’s classic pink. I loved the way the white text made it feel princess-y, but it was also easy to switch out the pink and white with a black and green to add that “edge” with the fonts and the darker greens and blues. So consider how you can use the graphics, colors, and style to help the story and think about the feel it will create, and take into account what level of efficiency it allows for when you make the final.

  • A general set of icons and symbols that would appear in the story.

    Monsters Inc. – The doors, Boo’s costume, and the Laugh Canisters. In Lonely Awake here, coffee, dogs, forests, black lipstick, etc. You may be able to see where a lot of the story shines through this image, and I include the reasons I have them in the story in the image above. They should be things that will be used in the story later. Some of these things may come and go as you develop it, but they will be what your readers connect with and what they will subconsciously pick out and identify with when they read your story.

  • References to other literatures, if any.

    For example, I reference sleeping beauty in my story often, and I even liked green for the Erl King like Maleficent, and pink, blue and blonde like Aurora. I wanted Will to resemble a prince charming, but also have a preparedness to him, so the fleece vest and a flannel were exactly what worked together to help him resemble a prince, but a hiking backpack and hiking boots were also the perfect touch to make him more similar to someone surviving an apocalypse.

  • Notes and connections to things you know.

    This might be where a lot of your actual plot and characters will be developed from. They should be the connection point between the look and the feel of the story to the actual plot and theme. So consider that your accents, icons, and symbols relate to the notes and connections you pull together. For instance, in my image there, the feeling of the morning and coffee was prevalent, especially in a lot of chapters in the story, The lonely feeling, even when it’s cozy. Almost like this entire story is a morning on pause and she’s just living a really, really long morning. Will was closely inspired by my husband, especially over the time I was writing the story. Joseph’s carefree and relaxed view on life in contrast to my anxious and worrying self was also very strongly based on my own experiences. The root of the lesson of the story stems from this, learning what Love really is, and showing that love in a way that contrasts that of lust or temporary and conditional love, instead showing how Love grows you and changes you.

  • Fonts and layout styles.

    Optional, but highly recommended for web comics- I used Breamcatcher for the title, and my text I decided to go with a classic yet playful comic book font, GosmickSans. I wanted the fonts to work together to mix the apocalyptic with the fairy tale look. At the end of this outline I have links to sites, including where I get my fonts from. They offer free ones, Breamcatcher and GosmickSans were both free. (Make sure you use appropriate licensing and make sure the fonts are not for personal use- look for free commercial use fonts if you plan on making money off of your story.)

From the image you’re going to have some sort of idea of how your story will feel. This is where the originality of your story begins. It will change and you will add more to it over time, and you may have to sacrifice some elements, but ultimately this is what your readers are going to pick up on and what’s going to pull them in.

Your image should be something that starts to create a small scene in your head of a character, and maybe a setting they are in, or something they might be facing.  My image for Lonely Awake was of a girl looking out a window, while everyone was sleeping, she was in her kitchen with a cup of coffee, sad and lonely.

The step of inspiration should last until you have this clear idea of this little universe you’ve made. When you have some character in your head in a setting or situation that is unique, and when you have a strong idea of the image’s feel and context. You’re ready to move on to the next step, if you haven’t naturally been doing it already.

The Dramatic Structure

Ask “How?” & “Why?”

Now that you have a strong image of a character and a situation/setting, it’s time to start giving these bones some muscle and some flesh. Asking questions trying to connect the idea to a stronger plot.

You’re going to start with your image of your character in their setting/situation, and work out. This image could be at any point in your story, it’s just a matter of finding where it lies by asking these questions until you see where it lies. You’ll ask how and why until you have a simple beginning, middle and end of your story. Not every question has to be answered at this point, because it will change a lot. But this is the part where you figure out what great obstacle your character faces, and how they overcome it. 

 

Here is the dramatic structure of Cinderella.

Let’s pretend that the image the author had was of a peasant girl dancing with a prince. Surely there is an expanded image of a glass slipper, a godmother’s magic touch, animals and pumpkins, and maybe sooty dirty fireplaces too.

First ask questions that drive a plot outward toward the beginning and end, like, “How did she end up dancing with the prince? (How they got there) “Will they fall in love?” (What will this lead too?) Ask questions until you get to what happens before and after the scene in your head from your image, and until there is a stark difference in growth in your character.

And once you have a beginning, middle, and end from it, (peasant girl is tormented by family, goes to a ball with the prince, falls in love, and lives happily ever after with him) you can start asking more rising and falling action questions- questions like, “What would her tormenting family think of this?” “How does she get this dress?” 

Then finally, start asking conflict questions, including What-ifs, and conditions– like, “How could this be worse?” “What if the family wouldn’t let her go? Then how would she get to the ball?” But make sure you keep this in line with character and growth. These questions must bring about an ultimate growth to the character, providing to the plot’s lesson or theme, not just filler events.
A filler event vs a useful obstacle is– a useful obstacle brings the story around to a deeper level. It provides growth and makes the climax the point where everything about every character, event, and action is revealed. Like how the moment before the climax, the slipper was lost, the spell went away at midnight, and the prince seemingly could never find her again. everything worked against Cinderella leading up to the climax. But, at the climax, when the prince found her, the prince was able to see exactly who she was, see her for the servant she is, and was able to really save her from it. When the prince found her, It revealed the sisters and the mother’s nasty motives, and provided the greatest relief for Cinderella. So to make sure an event is not a filler event, consider the importance of an event when you add it in. IT should obviously make things worse, but think about what it will do to the characters in the long run, and how it will grow them more in relation to your plot’s theme. (i.e. Cinderella- kindness and humility triumphs evil and hate.)

 

Answering these questions:

Answering the questions with Conditions: If you answer a question by going back and providing an easy solution for your character- as “the Godmother appears and gives her a dress and a mode of transportation to go,” then it must come with some sort of drawback that limits the character, and that drawback has to come up and bite them in the butt. Because, aside from the fact that easy solutions like this are boring and annoying to your audience, it really gives nothing to your plot- it provides no growth and no triumph. It’s just a quick save. If you give an easy solution, It must serve as an ultimate force against the character in the end. For instance, in Lonely Awake, I provided a solution to the problem by making it to where someone is awake, but that’s too easy- so I made it to where the Erl King finds out about this person, and makes it to where she can’t kiss him. Any good thing must be met by a bad thing. Your characters must only resolve the story in spite of everything. They must have gotten what they needed to actually defeat the villain by their own acts of growth. Cinderella reached a point where all hope was lost, but it was the driving force of the story (love) that lead the prince to find Cinderella. It must boil down to the character growth. This is the best way to help your readers relate to your characters and inspire them to the same growth in their own lives. It’s the deep and simple humanity of a story shining through and conquering the supernatural of your story that stands out to your readers.

Answering the questions with Character Motives/Tendencies: This is answering a question with, “Because this character is like this, they did this action.” Now, keep in mind, the character’s tendencies and personality should not change in order to answer these questions. They must remain the same, or at least follow a pattern of growth. The sisters were mean from the get go, so it’s no surprise they tried to hide Cinderella, or not let her go at all, because they are selfish at their root. The prince is in love, so he is willing to do whatever it takes to find Cinderella at any small chance of hope. This is no surprise to the reader. Because the characters tendencies should be established from the beginning of the story, or at least provide obvious evidence throughout the story if they change.

 

All Hope is Lost

The moment before your climax should be the absolute worst case scenario. The more worst-case-scenario you make this part, the more exciting the story is. Readers watch this build up to this point and feel more and more stress as it builds, so the climax and resolution are satisfying to the reader and they feel the growth from the story. BUT- Don’t throw in things for the sake of it. Everything that makes it worse must connect to the growth and development of the character in the end. For instance, the slipper was lost, Cinderella was right back at the terrible place she started, and the prince would never love her because of who she really is. But regardless of this, it was the prince’s love that lead him to find her, and his love that saw past her state, and his love that rescued her from her home. An example of useless additional things is, say, the fairy godmother died. It contributes nothing, the death has no bearing on the climax, and the readers don’t necessarily care about her. Consider if your additions to your worst-case-scenario will have any effect on the final theme and climax of the story. If they don’t have a strong contribution to the meat of the story, they are pointless.

This step removes any filler from the get-go because when you focus on this, you will see right from the start what is actually necessary to your story. Your story is not as powerful or as good when there are tons of things that are “cool,” but unnecessary. What makes something actually cool in a story is when it really does bring the story together, so if it’s not doing that in this step, then it’s not doing anything but serving as a distraction from the actual plot and distracting the reader from the meat of the story. So detach and let it go. Use it in something else. Hey, maybe it will come back too. You never know, really. Make sure your priority in the story is the meat, not the cool parts.

 

Adding Original Twists

Twists are what hooks a reader. They are actually really simple. It’s what gets your readers interested. Peaks their interest. Here are a few tips to creating a twist that holds your readers attention.

  • “What if instead, This happened?”
    This can be anything from “Sleeping Beauty, but reversed- she’s the only one awake and everyone else is sleeping.” or “What if Snow White’s Hunter fell in love with her?” OR “What if maleficent isn’t as bad as she seems?” These can be difficult questions to come up with, but you can learn to get really quick and good at it. As long as you keep an open mind and do it often, you’ll find these particular twists become easier to come up with and become more and more original.
  • Mix in something totally unrelated from the beginning.
    “What if Abraham Lincoln was a vampire hunter.” “Pirates meet Time Travel” Just take two totally different ideas and start seeing if you can create an original image from it, and start asking questions. The more different the ideas are, the more likely you will create an idea that has never been seen before, and will discover lessons that story could teach that are unique and special to you.
  • “What could possibly make this worse?”
    This is a great way to add twists if you keep asking this question. Set up your characters for absolute failure. Now get them out. It will keep your reader hooked and as long as you use everything to the advantage of the story, when this is pulled off well, you’ll find it’s one of the best ways to keep the twists coming.
  • “What if this character had a different motive?”
    Beyond betrayal or secret identities, try looking at your story from new eyes. Pick a character and totally change them. Maybe something like, “What if the Wicked Witch of the West wasn’t as bad as she seemed?” What does it do to the story? Do you like what it does? See if you can’t tweak it a bit to make it work. What other lessons could it offer? Is there a totally new story there? How can you elaborate on the idea more? Do you maybe even like it more than what you have? Follow what works best for your story. Follow the lessons and pick what resonates strongest with you.

 

Look & Feel – Theme

This topic is a more in-depth look at the Image. Talking about the symbols, colors, and palettes you choose, and more specifically how to use them and connect them to the plot.

  • First, know what each element means to the characters and the reader.
    Your elements should connect to the reader, either by connecting the character to reality, or connecting the character to a future event or past event in the story that points to their growth. For instance, Will taking the necklace off of Eva is a symbol of Eva learning to let go of her fear, especially with the assistance of Will. It also provides a logistical help by removing the Erl King’s ability to track her.
  • Do they have a deeper meaning?
    Is there any symbol that that the element provides in real life? Odie is a dog, providing companionship, and an underlying symbol throughout the story is of companionship, and Odie brings this to the characters minds, while also serving a logistical help, being an object of dialogue that allows me to reveal emotions and thoughts through looks from Eva directed at him. (I also use Odie to compare to Will and draw out Will’s easy-going nature and loyalty- much like a dog has. Their instant friendship and kindred spirits help Odie be the symbol of companionship and love that he is.)
  • What logistical help do they provide to the plot?
    Not always necessary, but it really pulls a story together if these elements play a role. Like the colors of Lonely Awake never play a direct role, but they do create the theme and look. Eva’s sweaters does nothing logistical, but help make the story feel cozy, and contribute to her visual appearance of a very reserved and safe person. The glass slipper is another example of a logistical element that contributes to the story.
  • What styles and mediums complement all of your symbols, icons, values, and colors the best?
    Finally, for a web comic or graphic novel, consider what mediums, styles, and looks go with your story. What if you painted the story? Used a different program? What if you just kept it black and white? Do these elements of your image allow you to make a more original look to your story?

This is the basic start to making a solid and engaging plot. It takes practice, and sometimes you might just scrap an idea, and sometimes that old idea will suddenly click new in your head. If you do this often, think about ideas and spin them in your head often, you start to get good at it. When you pay attention to your own life and let your life show you how twists work, how characters develop and help each other, and how personal growth works in relation to hardships- you’ll learn to mimic reality in your stories and they will all be that much better.

Character & Setting

Hey, Hate to burst your bubble, but your characters aren’t real. They’re just reflections. So see them as mirrors of reality. Make them realistic. Make them flawed, make them accurate reflections. 

Motives

This is the driving force of any free-willed being. It’s the “why” until it’s down to the value or need of the character. Below is a chart of my characters from Lonely Awake. 

A character is made of a desired action, motive, and value or need. They directly connect to the plot. A character is not a composition of traits and likes and dislikes. They are formed by a story, the story makes them as they need to be. They are rooted in a very specific value/need related to the story, and their motive directly connects that value/need to the motive that presents itself more obviously in the story, clearly driving them as evident by each of their actions. 

 

Desired Action: This is what the character is doing to move their motive forward. It will change thought the story, but it must always be directly connected to the character’s motive. It will not steer from this or conflict with the motive. 

 

Motive: This their agenda in a way, what they plan to do in the grand scheme of the story. The motive can and often will change as the plot causes your character to grow. Usually, this very change is what defines a protagonist, and sometime a hero. The motive is the bridge from the inner world of the character to the eternal world of the story.

 

Value/Need: This is what relates the importance of the character to the story. It should be a value or need that relates to the theme of the story. The character should represent this value or aspect of the story. For example, Eva’s defined by her hopelessness and loneliness, but changes at the deepest level here, and will learn the value of love, risk and sacrifice. Will does not change throughout the story, but, as a supporting character, clearly exemplifies real love throughout the story, in contrast to the Erl King, who clearly demonstrates a twisted view of love in our world- selfish lust and control. These values should connect all your characters to their parts in the plot. If they don’t, you should highly consider if your character is truly necessary. 

 

Personality.

Personality comes from the story. It’s not as important as you think it would be. The way a character carries themselves, talks, and interacts is secondary and is a product of their values, motives and actions. It should be obvious to you what the character will be like between their motives, actions, and values. So don’t stress it. If you worry about this and consciously express it, you take the relatability and believability of the character. So don’t worry yourself with it, and let the story tell you who the characters are. Personality is not likes and dislikes, it’s a product of values, motives, and actions.

 

Comparisons, Contrasts, and Components.

Your characters must all work together and connect to each other in a significant way down to their values. This involves…

 

Comparisons (Same Values/Needs & Motives)

Characters that show similarities bring to light something important to the reader. Will and Odie are similar in their values and both provide an air of carefree adventure that then connects to Eva and the reader- being examples of how taking risks and showing love are good and productive things to your growth. Eva’s trust for Odie already plays a role, but Will and Odie together exaggerate the importance of this aspect of the story.

 

Contrasts (Directly opposing Values and Motives)

Characters that contrast show the goodness of the value being presented. Will and The Erl King have highly contrasting Values, showing the difference between real love and lustful love. Eva is caught in the middle of this, and as the story unfolds, this contrast shows the reader and herself the meaning of Love.

 

Complements (Flaws and strengths that balance each other)

One of my favorite ways to show a value, because it is the best way to present the actual growth of a character. Eva is a pessimistic and nihilistic character, compared to Will’s optimistic and positive views. This difference is what opens Eva up to growth, and that’s the root of the story. 

 

Types of Characters

A Protagonist Versus A Hero.

A protagonist is the character that relates to the reader the most. The reader should see themselves in this character, and the protagonist will go through the growth and change that overarches the entire story. A hero can still be in a story. They can even be the protagonist, or maybe be the main character but not the protagonist. In Lonely Awake, Will is the hero, but Eva is the protagonist experiencing growth and leads the story. The Great Gatsby is another example of a different angle on heroes and protagonists. The story follows Nick, who watches as Gatsby’s background and character reveal itself throughout the story, but really, the story is about Gatsby, and revolves around his story, and teaches Nick in the end, and in turn us as well. In a way, Gatsby is a tragic hero, losing his own life, as necessary to Nick’s growth in realizing the American Dream is a damaging and fruitless gain, causing Nick to change his values, thus making him the true protagonist in the story.

 

There doesn’t have to be an Antagonist/Opposing Force, but know if there is.

Antagonists don’t have to be “the bad guy,” they are simply defined as the force against the protagonist. If you have a character whose motives conflict with the protagonist, you have an antagonist. Usually, but not always, their flaws are fatal, and deeply lie in a twisted value/Need. Often they are ill-willed, or simply just trying to pursue their own harmless motives. But in the end, this opposing force (because it doesn’t even have to be a person, it can be an event, entity, or even a group of people, society, etc.) Must be overcome, whether it be they are changed, defeated, or they in some way no longer have an effect on the protagonist, and the protagonist overcomes the internal or even external danger/damage they cause. 

Not every story has to have an antagonist either. Some stories are just a change in a character through a string of events. So don’t feel tied down to an antagonist, but if you have one, be sure to respect their importance to the story, honoring the change they will cause in your character. 

 

Recognize Supporting Characters.

These characters do not require a flaw, but still a value/need, motive, and action. They must provide some sort of help to a story. For instance, Odie provides the ability to compare Will and himself, and even some logistical and emotional support. Will is even the hero, and he is still just a supporting character. He can not be defined by any growth in a story as a protagonist, but as a help to the protagonists growth. You can even write the story from a supporting character’s perspective, but know who is who in your story to help you place the key elements of your story in the best places for your readers to connect.

 

Setting is a Character. Treat it as such.

The setting of a story is just as important the world you develop plays an important part in how your characters react, relay information, and a setting can even contribute to a character’s growth and journey. A setting can be a supporting character or even an antagonist. It has as much importance as any other character in the story does, so remove the idea that it’s just a place and start looking for its significance to the plot. The settings of Lonely Awake create an atmosphere where a character feels comfortable or maybe unsafe. Maw Maw’s kitchen is an environment that is new to Eva, and shows off Will’s background and introduces Eva to new things that grow her. The field of poppies feels dark and oppressive, drawing similarities to The Erl King’s overcoming aspects and twisted mind. It’s just as surrounding and creepy as him, in a way that almost outnumbers Eva. Let your settings work with or against certain characters, just as other characters do to each other. How can your setting compare, contrast, or complement your other characters?

 

That’s the basics of characters. The most important parts of a character are their values/needs, motives, and actions. Make sure you are taking constant note of how they all compare, contrast, and complement each other. Know who is who so you can use all of your elements from your image appropriately. 

 

Drafting & Final

Ready to start your making your final story?

  • You have your plot done. 
  • Your Dramatic structure is complete. 
  • You know your characters motives and desires, they are fleshed out and complete. 
  • You have no more questions left to answer about your story. (This means your world is developed and believable enough.)
  • Everything makes sense, runs in a consecutive flow, and there are no holes. 
  • Your story’s values and themes are prevalent and you are in love with what it teaches. 

 

This is the step that will surely test you, improve you, and teach you. It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to get personal. So at this step, it’s about your personal strength. Remember your passion and remember your why. It’s a monotonous, repetitive step, and you’ll absolutely get bored, burnt out, even discouraged, beaten down, and maybe even made fun of. I’m saying this is going to begin touching your personal life. There will be comments, from people online, even your family and friends. They will mean something to you,whether you like it or not. Maybe the lack of response or carry equal if not more of a challenge. 

 

Stories are a deep and personal thing. You’re pouring your time and energy into this. It’s made of your deepest beliefs and your own values, experiences, and passions. Your story is a piece of you. And people are gonna have an opinion about it. It is detrimental to your own confidence that you know this going in. I still could not prepare myself, even now for me, the slightest comment can get to me, or a failed campaign puts a ting of hurt on me. But, what I’ve found helps, is to detach as much as possible from the actual story and start coming back to who I am, the life I live, the story I am part of, and how my work will bring me closer to reality. Remind yourself with the positives, and remember that the most important thing  among all of the opinions about you and your work is to remember why. Why you’re telling a story. I tell a story to connect with others. My stories have already allowed me to come closer to people over the creation of the story. I’ve already seen it touch hearts and I’ve seen the power it has on people who are reading it. Comments that people notice the work, comments that start conversations, messages from people it speaks too, it all reminds me of my why. So, before you start officially writing your story and releasing it to the real world, make sure you are as detached as you can be, and most importantly, make sure you really, really know why you’re writing.

Outline

So, if it is done, then you are ready to write your final outline. 

This is a pretty straightforward task. 

What I personally do is I start a Google Doc. That way I can share it with people as necessary, make and see past changes, make comments and see comments from others- I’ve just found it to be the best way to do this for myself. 

I then go in and type out each event that happens in the story. I make sure to put notes to myself as comments. Those comments are usually notes to myself of specific dialogue I’d like, notes to make sure I show a certain thing for foreshadowing, and maybe notes to my outline readers and editors.

Then I break it up into chapters. I think about the flow and breakup of the story, where things get worse and better. I’ve found the best places to put chapter breaks are between moment the reader has at least one question answered, but a new one is brought up. It’s not always possible, but the story will likely lend itself to show you where chapter breaks should be. It’s also strongly dictated by the medium you’re using and platform you are uploading too. Chapter lengths and time between each chapter post is dependent on how much you can get done in a certain amount of time for release dates and campaign plans, so somewhat consider this at this step as well.

Then I wait. I set the whole thing aside for at least two weeks and stop thinking about it. Then when I get back to it, I have fresh eyes on it then I can proof it one more time and edit as necessary. This sometimes is an ongoing process, until you are as happy as you feel like you need to be about your story. It can always be improved, but if the story gets the message across, it is technically done, and when you see it’s reached it potential.

 

Detach.

This is the stage to totally detach and be ruthless to your story. Nitpick the crap out of it and think about what the biggest critic would say. It’s a new eye on your story, and might reveal some thing you could improve.

 

Thinking Ahead

Planning out your post schedule.

Make sure you know what chapters will take longer and shorter, like, for instance, is there a really long chapter that take place at a detailed gas station? Or a forest full of foliage? These were things I had to consider and make extra time for. It helps to be at least two weeks ahead, so these chapters can take longer and not suffer, because you’ll have enough time to catch up and get back ahead on the shorter chapters. Maybe go through and do a sample panel to see how long a panel from a chapter will take you. It doesn’t have to be an actual panel, just one you image from it. Really go through and analyze each chapter and figure out approximately how many panels you want to have for each chapter. (Go to other comics that are like how you want your comic to be and count how long they are if you don’t know.) Do math, it will really help you get an idea of how to set up your chapter schedule in a way that is realistic and approachable for your life. The last thing you want is an unrealistic and overwhelming and time consuming schedule you just can’t live up too. Set realistic goals and consider your own specialties that would affect your schedule and plan for them. Know yourself and know what will be a challenge for you, and work around it while you don’t have the stress of the deadline on your tail. 

 

Make sure you add at least 2-3 weeks to be ahead. You never know when you might have a major fix to make, or an emergency, or when you’ll just plain need a break.

Make sure you schedule out…

  • Chapter sketch days (when you work on sketching the final chapter out and flesh out the details of the scene)
  • Chapter final days (when you make the actual final artwork and layout) 
  • When you export it all and prepare it to post (this can take longer than you think)
  • Actual Chapter release days
  • Marketing campaign launches (If you’re on Patreon, any concept art posts or something or Instagram ads, etc.)

 

Make sure you can draw everything your story will require. 

Make sure you know how you will work around your weaknesses and emphasize your strengths in your style. Know what angle and style you’re good at, and which ones you can’t do, and make sure you have workarounds and ideas in place to help yourself out. But make sure your style is sustainable for you. Can you repeat it and can you draw whatever you want with it? Are your subject matters within your capability as an artist at your level? You’ll get better, but not overnight. Make sure everything is possible now, because you don’t know where you’ll be then. You could be way better, but you could also be overestimating yourself.

 

Make sure you are in a place in life where you can emotionally, logistically, and physically commit for as long as this requires. 

You can’t plan for everything, obviously, but make sure you aren’t, like, expecting a baby in the time you will be taking to make this, or that you are at a good place with the important people in your life. Trust, me, the last thing you want is an additional layer of drama on top of something like writing a freaking book- of course, if you can avoid it. Also consider if you are in school, or if it is best to take on this project in the summer. Or maybe consider how long you can take on it after school with homework. Or your current job? Will that cause any rifts or unexpected turns that will mess with your schedule? Look at your own life and consider what might cause any problems in getting your story done.

 

Do you have the time? Money? Programs?

Make sure you have everything you physically need to get it done Internet to post on the days you post, Money for any marketing campaigns or ads, money for your subscriptions to your programs, or that you even have your programs.

Staying Committed

Breaks
Know how long you can afford to take a break, and plan for that time. Don’t plan when you will take them, but save the time you allotted yourself and use it when you feel like you actually need one. You really might be able to go forever and the break will only kill your motivation. Or maybe you’ll need the break early on, and then get set again after a nice reset.

 

Editing Groups

This has been hands down the most useful thing to my commitment. An editing group is just a small group of people you send your drafts to for them to edit and give input on the story. I recommend finding people you can trust that don’t actually know you that well and make friends with them through this group and though your story. I literally sent out an announcement on instagram looking for people to join and got a few together and told them I would send them the files to read over and they all say what they think in the group chat and everyone has fun talking about it and getting excited about it. It is so uplifting to see people excited about your story. It’s great for taking on the feeling that no one cares, because these people should. They signed up, and they are committed to helping your story be great. I made friends with these people now, they are all over the country, but I really value their input. So, if it’s possible for you, I highly recommend creating a group of 3-7 people who you can count on to say a little something to your story every few weeks. They told me and encouraged me, saying it helps them feel like they are a part of something, and as I’ve grown close to some of this group, I’m starting to see the fruits of my story reach into the hearts of even my editing group, and this was all exactly why I write. So find some special way to connect your story to particular individuals, so you can see with a close eye just how your story affects your readers, and let it be a way to remind you why you write.

 

Know yourself and work around your weaknesses.

Personally, I was not looking forward to a few chapters. They weren’t going to be very fun to write, even though they were going to be exciting to read. My readers favorite chapters so far were not exactly my favorite to make. But I anticipated the procrastination I would inevitably have, and made sure I gave myself a lot of time so I only had to do maybe 10 panels a day on the ones I dreaded, so it didn’t take up my entire day doing something I didn’t want to do. And it got done. I also know when I get excited about a chapter, I will get to sketching it very quickly, and even get it done a lot faster, so im even able to plan for that and take time that I freed myself up for to work on marketing plans, and even things like this.

 

Remember Why

It can help to place reminders everywhere of why. I wrote it in my journal. I listen to podcasts that encourage me, personally, I pray. When it gets boring, or monotonous, I turn on music and connect myself to the story again. I remember what it makes me, who it connects me with, and let it remind me how to fall in love with life again. I find myself singing and even dancing at my desk to the songs that inspired the story and how far it’s taken me. So find the ways you can remind yourself constantly about the why, and bring yourself back to the reality of your story.

 

Realistic Goals

Know how long it’s going to take you. Plan for it and make sure you have buffer room! Plans get you places, but only realistic ones do. So make room for breaks whenever you need them, and plan around to make sure you have time away from your story, time with your friends or family in the real world.

If you find yourself overwhelmed by your own schedule to the point you’re not even wanting to work on it anymore, just because there is so much to do, and it’s killing your motivation, it’s time to replan. Maybe it’s time to reconsider your strengths and weaknesses, and if necessary, change your post plan. Your life and your mental health are more important than this story, so make sure you are prioritizing them by setting realistic goals tailored to you and your life and your abilities. Don’t make plans for a person who is more talented,has more time, and is more put together than you. It will actually make you feel worse and more like a failure because you can’t live up to these expectations you created in this plan! So plan for you. 

 

Literally a snack.

Sometimes, I just feel worn out and super bored with my book. It’s normal. You can be as passionate for your work as you can possibly be, but it’s also just sometimes gonna be a lot on you. So spice it up! I love coffee in the morning (if I haven’t mentioned that) and sometimes a fun treat makes it all the more fun. Turning on music, having an ice coffee, and a few cookies, whatever works for you. Find your motivation food, or your motivation playlist. Also try changing your playlist. I find i listen to the same thing all the time but sometimes it’s nice to turn on a podcast instead, or find new music to take my mind there instead of on the boring part of my story. Drawing Will and Eva literally 60+ times in one week is really boring tbh so sometimes I get sick of seeing them, but music, snacks, and breaks really help. So do Sadie & Jpeg. The little things are what will nibble away at the boredom, so know what works for you and make sure you keep it alive and strong. I also look at these things as the elements of my life like my life’s image. The coffee, Sadie, my desk, my flannels, and my pens. My notebooks and my planner- they motivate me as the things in my life that make my life mine, and i don;t know why, but it kind of just motivates me. Find that weird thing that makes you feel power and keep going!

Marketing

This section applies to people who are looking to pursue writing as a career and make money off of their books. But it can also be a good tool in learning how to find your audience and write for an audience well. Marketing and writing actually have a whole lot in common.

Successful marketing is selfless to its core and is a personal, inviting connection to your audience.

Get out of your head that your a sneaky salesperson just trying to sell your book to make profit and start thinking about how your book can help others. You only need the money because you are pursuing this every day of your life! You need money for food and if you have to have another job you don’t have as much time to pursue your writing. And hey! Your writing is a talent, you are making something worth money, and people should pay for it, don’t devalue what you do. Selling your book is to get your book out there, get your message out there, and the money is only a side thing to keep the bills paid and fund the marketing to keep spreading your message. So remember, your book has value, you have value, and your skill is worth money. 

And remember marketing is necessary. How else are you supposed to get your book out there? You have to tell people about it and draw them in! You have to put ads out and tell people and share it because how else will they find it? Marketing is so important. Don’t ever think less of it because it is equally as important as your story.

 

Now, I actually come from a business background. My dad is a web designer for small businesses and I worked for him for years since I was really young. I’ve had a huge interest in marketing since I was little and always knew I’d be a business owner. I personally love the data and watching the growth. I like numbers (I know, I’m a writer, im not supposed to but- I’m also an equally passionate a businesswoman, So- ) I myself ran a graphic design business in high school and up until I got married. So marketing has always kind of been my blood. But I get it, it might not be in yours, and I know sometimes people are intimidated by it. It can be risky, and it actually cost money. But I really don’t want you to feel like it’s some skill that can’t be learned. But, if your still not confident, there are lots of resources to help you follow others who can do it in a way you personally are confident will work for your story. I included a few places you can go to learn about marketing from a selfless and giving perspective in the useful resources section at the end of this. 

 

Save Up

If your story matters to you and you really do want to pursue a career in writing, it’s going to cost some money. But, again, if it matters to you like this, you will make a way to save up and be willing to wait. You’ll work another job. Make money and set it aside for your dreams. I hated my graphics business, but I had a dream. So I started to save the money. When I had the amount I needed to send out an ad for $40/ad for the next few chapters I planned, I started marketing and I started writing. I wrote the comic while I was working. It kept me busy, I planned a few all-nighters, and some of my weekends were just comic, but I made it happen AND I lived my life. It’s possible.

 I’ll go ahead and let you all know, I was ALSO getting married and ALSO dealing with the biggest dramafest of my life to date involving me closing my business and the backlash I was facing related to that. So, it’s possible, (but I did mentioned before, consider any possible coming plans in your life and where you’re at with family members and friends, I spoke from experience when I say don’t start writing a comic when you’re getting married, moving out of your parents house, and closing a business.) So between saving up for life after marriage, paying for a wedding, and paying bills to my parents, all on about $1,000 a month, I made it work. And here I am, Alive and happier than ever. Literally fulfilling my dream! The extra money I set aside for my book is coming to fruition, so I’m telling you, it can be done. The only thing limiting you is yourself. Save up in spite of your situation. Even if it’s just a small amount each month, it adds up, I promise. Just $20 a month adds up, even $10 a month adds up, It’s just a matter of how long you’re willing to wait. And take that waiting time to write your story! Improve it! You don’t have to wait until you’re done with your story to start saving up!

 

Know your audience and meet them where they are at.

What platforms are they use the most?

Make sure you only stay central to where your readers are. What platform do people like your readers spend their time and energy? Instagram is probably your go-to, just from my experience, most web comic readers are mostly on tumblr and instagram, not as much on facebook. So don’t spend money on a facebook ad if they aren’t there. Spend it on an instagram ad.

 

Ask your current readers to share the story with their friends.

Your most powerful tool are the people you already have on your side for your story. The people who like it and are ACTUALLY excited about it. Their genuine references to your story to their friends will be what really sells it. And their friends are your audience too! Marketing happen naturally too, but spending money on an ad kick-starts it. It’s like planting a seed and the flower grows and lets more seeds out. The most plants you plant the more seeds it will spread. So don’t forget that. But make sure you remind your readers to do this. There is also a benefit of seeing if you can run a campaign that benefits your readers for sharing your story. Ie giving out stickers, special access, etc. Helping them identify with sharing your story makes for passionate readers too. People who want more of your story and the people you will touch most with your story, because you’re pulling them in to be part of it too. People who contribute something from themselves to something are more passionate and open-minded to what they give themselves too. So respect that. You’re building relationships.

 

Your sketches will be interesting to your audience. Keep them all. Anything you draw will be interesting to your audience. They will be happy to see it, so make sure you have a plan to make present them to the audience at some point. Thes can be useful in marketing campaigns, especially on patreon and Social Media.

 

What do they read besides your story?

Make sure your story fits in with the others well. It needs to have its differences, but don’t write a story that’s a complicated history book about war and tragedy and try to marketing it to little who like to read about animals falling in love. It’s not the same market, so make sure you know who will read your story. Just because you like a specific kind of person doesn’t mean they will like your story. Look at who reads stories similar to yours in the same genre and find out who likes those. The comments will really give it away and you can find the type of person.

 

Why do they read? What do they like in your story?

You have to know why people will like your story too. What details resonate with them and which characters do they relate too? These are useful because you’ll know a little more about what to market. Use those characters more often in your ads and show off the scenes that had the highest feedback. You’ll get more people like your returning readers, and that’s what you want, because they are the most passionate about your story and they are the best flowers to spread the seed to more people who are willing to hear your message.

 

Develop your own plan and learn your own way.

This is as far as I will go on this subject. It’s up to you to read more on marketing. There are so many different ways to go about it, and every story is different. Learn by doing your own research, because that’s really the only best way to decide what will work for you. Search on Youtube for marketing videos and strategies and get good yourself. If you are really looking to make a career selling books, you have to learn to develop your own plan without minimal assistance from people telling you how they got it to work for them. That is my ultimate advice on that. Learn for yourself. Maybe even make mistakes. I recommend planning for mistakes to happen and saving up extra in case you make some along the way.

Useful Resources and Links

 

Podcasts That Keep Me Going
(All these are on almost every platform)

Business Boutique

https://www.businessboutique.com/podcast/

This podcast keeps me going and got me through my hardest times. Its marketed to women, so if that’s you this will likely be a huge help to you too. But it has played such a huge role in inspiring me to pursue my passions even when it felt like no one cared about what I was really passionate about.

 

Entreleadership

https://www.entreleadership.com/blog/category/money/marketing

Another great podcast, more general small business, so I recommend going to marketing episodes in specific.

 

Ear Biscuits

https://www.youtube.com/user/rhettandlink5

Yes, weird, I know, but Rhett & Link actual talk a lot about being creators in this day and age, and it’s a surprisingly unique thing being a creator myself. Somtimes they’ll talk about stupid stuff an its just nice to listen to while I’m bored working, but sometimes it makes me cry man. They have a story that speaks to me a lot, and if you are also a creator, I recommend listening for lots of reasons. They used to have guests and you can listen to them too. Guests who are creators and they talk more about that stuff too. Sometimes success stories that inspire you, and it’s just a good, entertaining listen.

 

The Platforms provide great stuff too.

Webtoons

https://www.webtoons.com/en/creator101/wanted

 

Patreon

https://blog.patreon.com/tag/patreon-guides

 

My Programs

CorelDRAW

https://www.coreldraw.com/en/pages/ppc/coreldraw/?sourceid=cdgs2019-xx-ppc_brkws&x-vehicle=ppc_brkws&gclid=Cj0KCQjwn_LrBRD4ARIsAFEQFKtzw76wdwLCfkiXCtedWVygyCBx8KAkbcwZ9jvLxArLUPrlfln4im4aAjLfEALw_wcB

This is the program I use to get that clean, bold colored, lineless art. I have been using it since I was 9. It looks like I have files from before that too. As expensive as it is, I swear by it. Amazing program.

 

Other links that, hey, might be nice:

 

https://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-media-branding/

Some straight facts and data about markets and social media to help you, but this may be outdated soon.

 

https://www.timeanddate.com/date/timeduration.html

Time & Date. This helps me so much from figuring out dates for my promotions, to timing out how long it will take me to run promotions, plan chapters, figure out release dates, etc.

 

http://www.inklestudios.com/inklewriter/

Writing a Choose Your Own Adventure or a Video game? This can be extremely helpful.

 

https://nameberry.com/

For names for characters and Places. You can also literally use google translate. Use languages that go with your Image. That mean things to the character. I actually do this all the time for personal writing.

 

And free fonts!

https://www.dafont.com/

https://fonts.google.com/

So That’s It.

If you have any more questions, comments, or you would like some specific help, I’m always open to start conversation! If you have specific questions about your story, or you just want to talk about this, It’s one of my favorite topics. My contact information is at the bottom here, you really, really are invited to talk! I mentioned a few times, but my main purpose in writing is to connect with others. So let’s connect.

I am working on another document where I go more into detail on actual visual character and setting design, because these are just as complicated of subjects. I also plan on talking about how to make a comic no matter what artistic level you are at and even how to develop your own style that works with your strengths and weaknesses. But this document is now 26 pages long, so I think this is a good place to thank you and say goodbye!

-Megan Redmon

 

DM Me on Instagram – @the.bitsy.artist

Email me at thebtisymegan@gmail.com