1. Mousie
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    Mousie Contributing Member

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    Does this sound like a "plot" to you?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Mousie, Dec 12, 2008.

    So I'm thinking about doing a comic script (not strip) about a zombie apocolypse, but I'm having a little trouble...

    Basically, it's about two years into a mass zombie outbreak, and there's this mute kid who goes around on rollerskates, looking for food and shelter and trying not to, y'know, get eaten. I was thinking about having it be just about his "travels", joining bands of survivors and beating off feral animals with his trusty crowbar. But I'm wondering if that's enough.

    There's no real "plot" - I was thinking it could be just a string of short stories about my MC and the people he comes across and whatnot. But maybe that'll be a big turn-off for people? Would it be more appealing if there was one main plot?

    I mean, my MC doesn't stay with one group for too long because he's always heading south (and may or may not kick the bucket before we find out why), but that's not really a plot.

    It's still developing, so I don't have any actual stories or other characters planned out just yet, but I'm sure if I try hard enough I can write up a fairly decent script. I know it's all been done before, any story can be good if it's executed properly, all that jazz. What I wanna know is, would it be more appealing if I had one main story, or would a string of short stories do just fine?

    Thought I'd clear that up before I got Cog's "no asking about concepts" template post :p
     
  2. AnonyMouse
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    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

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    Do comic strips normally have a main plot? I haven't read any comic strips, but the few I've heard of didn't/don't have a main plot. An interesting MC getting into and out of trouble should be enough to carry the story without it having to head in any particular direction. In a zombie-infested wasteland, I can't imagine him having a master plan for survival. More specifically, I can't imagine that plan working out too well. It seems like a "live one day at a time" kinda place.

    At the very least, I'd suggest some sort of recurring gag or nemesis that shows up every few "episodes;" or maybe a supporting character that shows up from time to time. But I don't think a grand scheme is necessary for those things.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    But I think you missed the part about plots vs storylines. :)

    What it sounds like you have is a framework of characters and settings that you will introduce a series of simple stories into. I say simple, because the format will favor short, direct stories. However, even with simple individual stories you could build a larger story arc. Look at episodic television series like Buffy, The Vampire Slayer. Each individual episde has its own crisis to resolve, but each season also has a larger storyline that builds through the individual episodes. Also, the individual episodes also contain multiple stories involving the different characters; individual problems and interactions.

    Always keep track of your plots. A plot consists of an actor (think character), a goal or objective, and conflicts or obstacles that oppose the actor from attaining teh goal. Identifying the plots will help you to stay focused in your stories.
     
  4. Acglaphotis
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    Acglaphotis Contributing Member

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    I'd read it. Looks interesting to me :).
     
  5. Mousie
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    Mousie Contributing Member

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    @AnonyMouse: Comic script, not comic strip. Strips are funny, and my funny isn't funny :/ But now that you mention it, I guess the whole day-to-day survival should be enough without some big, I dunno, "master plan" or something.

    @Cogito: Oh, I didn't think of that. I guess I just kinda lumped "plot" and "storyline" together in my little mousie brain. Thanks a bundles.

    @Acglaphotis: :D
     
  6. Thagryn-Sylrand
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    Thagryn-Sylrand Senior Member

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    I didn't realize zombie apocalypse fiction needed a plot. As long as you have a cool mc (which it sounds like he is) and a good zombie killin weapon (crowbar, do you play half life?) it doesn't really need a plot.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Please. Any fiction needs a plot. I'm not enamored of zombie tales either, but be fair - if there is an objective, an actor, and obstacles, there is a plot.

    By the way - as to your sig. It really needs to keep the "ashes, ashes" line retained.
     
  8. de la vega
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    de la vega Member

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    I think one of my biggest mantras is: a story should be character-driven; not plot-driven. This doesn't mean that your story so far can't be good if written well. But what about this character? If you sit down and really develop him - to the point where he's almost real to you - the plot will come to you. Because plot comes from the goals, trials, disappointments, resolutions, etc. of the characters. One thing that's helpful to think of - and this is a very heavy theatre concept: a story begins with the break of stasis. And that story will go on and on until stasis is reestablished in some way. Hamlet is a good example. The stasis: King Hamlet is dead. The break: King Hamlet comes back as a ghost. The resolution: King Hamlet's death is revenged and the ghost can rest in peace. This is a plot. But what makes this tale so good is the characters, see. And the resolution isn't driven by plot; it's driven by Hamlet's need to revenge his father's death.

    Ugh, I sound like a professor. I know it may sound bland to use such a stock example as Hamlet. But what I'm basically saying is this: to create a story that will pull readers in, it needs to be driven by a dynamic character on a quest. This is the basic definition of a protagonist. And your reader needs to empathize with your protagonist. Not sympathize, mind you. Never go for sympathy - that creates too much sentimentality. Go for empathy. If we can't empathize with your protagonist, we won't invest in the story.
     
  9. Mousie
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    Mousie Contributing Member

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    @Thangryn - Why yes :D I didn't realize how Gordon Freemanish my MC was 'til you pointed that out. I just know crowbars are supposed to be the best weapons to use against zombies. Max Brooks has turned me into a raging zombie nerd.

    @De La Vega: I'm so glad you said that - I'm a lot better with characters than I am with plots. What a relief :)

    And yeah, I'm gonna try to develope him a little more before I start writing, but I also need to come up with more characters, too. It'd be boring if there was only one not-zombified character in the entire story, 'specially since he doesn't talk. I've got a few vague ideas for some survivors he could meet, but that's about it.

    Now I'm wondering if having a mute MC is such a good idea. He's not gonna be all cool and emotionless, but since he won't be talking, is it gonna be harder to empathize with him?
     
  10. de la vega
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    de la vega Member

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    Not at tall. I think it's a very intruiging character trait. It'll be quite the challenge for you, and I hope you find it more fun than frustrating (although you'll be feeling the latter quite a lot). What p.o.v. are you planning on writing this in?
     
  11. Scarecrow
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    Scarecrow Member

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    Sounds like your what you're trying to do is an zombified Waking Life. Don't know if you've seen it or not, but the MC goes around town talking to people about dreams. He doesn't ever speak and nothing else happens.

    So if you write the strip about your MC's travels that should be good enough. It'd be like writing a single PC D&D game.
     
  12. Mousie
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    Mousie Contributing Member

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    @De La Vega: Yeah, it'd be boring if there wasn't some kinda challege. I can't wait to start writing!

    I'm writing a script for a comic book, so I guess it'd be 3rd person. But I might give him some thinking bubbles. Not too sure yet. I'm thinking he's gonna be from Mexico (though the reader may or may not find that out. Should I hint at it with flashbacks or would that be corny?) and I haven't decided if he's gonna speak English or not. Hmm...

    @Scarecrow: Never seen it, but how does he talk to people if he doesn't ever speak??

    And not strip - script. I'm gonna go edit that...
     
  13. de la vega
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    de la vega Member

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    Oh yeah, I forgot about the comic book as medium. Thinking bubbles wouldn't be a bad way to go at all. If he's from Mexico, and has been born and raised in Mexico, then he should probably speak Spanish. Of course, this causes problems for the reader. Take a look at other comics and graphic novels that have a similar character and see how they treat it. I remember seeing something once where the dialogue was in the foreign language and an asterisk guided the reader to the bottom of the page where the translation was written. This would get cumbersome if overused, though.

    Flashbacks aren't corny at all. They're just tricky to execute. You don't want to depend on flashbacks for exposition.
     
  14. Thagryn-Sylrand
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    Thagryn-Sylrand Senior Member

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    Wow, I've been missing out. I didn't know there was a zombie survival guide, I need it lol

    *Cuddles up with the survival guide and a shot gun in front of the fireplace.

    It sounds like it will be an episodic comic book, so there would be a separate story for each episode. If you get one done I'd like to read it!
     
  15. Scarecrow
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    Scarecrow Member

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    The movie never shows him speaking, just other people answering his questions. Anyway, good movie, you should see it.
     
  16. Mousie
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    Mousie Contributing Member

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    @De La Vega: I've been thinking about the whole language issue. I think maybe I'll do those...crap, what're they called? They're not thinking bubbles, but similar - they're these boxes that show what the character thinks, but it's more like that character is narrating. It's hard to explain, but if I used those, I can probably use English. I dunno...

    @Thagryn: Why yes :D the Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brookes is really well thought-out. I've still gotta dig it out of one of my not-yet-unpacked boxes... World War Z is a really good one, too.

    And actually, shotguns aren't the best weapons to use against zombies. Why d'you think my MC weilds a crowbar? :D

    God I'm so nerdy.

    @Scarecrow: That sounds pretty cool, actually. I'll check it out sometime.
     
  17. perfectionist
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    I think if you are going to have a main character that is mute, you'll break a great deal of the effect by giving him thinking bubbles.

    The challenge - and this is a nightmare for the amateur artist, but a goldmine for the expert - is to portray his feelings by the way he is drawn, right down to him being able to communicate in a believable way with other characters.

    For an example of a comic that is very low on dialogue (the main character is not mute, just not chatty), but so well drawn that the story carries regardless, see Chapter 2 of the 10th Life of Pishio the Cat.

    Warning: there is some mild nudity in chapter 1, and C1 doesn't illustrate my point anyway.

    Good Luck

    ~Tom
     

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