1. Jaguar83
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    Jaguar83 New Member

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    Laying out an issue/episode guide with existing character outlines

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Jaguar83, Apr 8, 2014.

    I'm working on a production (most likely a web comic or animated web series) and I'm having trouble coming up with issue/episode ideas.

    I have the main characters mostly worked out and a rough idea of the kind of series I'm making.

    I have four characters, each with a specific, mostly non-overlapping skill set. Each instalment they use their skills to fulfil their contract.

    Problem is that I'm having trouble figuring out what kind of missions/contracts/stories they will be involved in.

    I figure the best way to start figuring things out is to write an outline of each character and their skills and build up the stories around that. Kind of like how a pearl is formed. Trying to find the central point around which the build each story is where I'm stuck.

    What are the best ways to layout the known story elements that is conducive to building a plot?
     
  2. FrankieWuh
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    FrankieWuh Active Member

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    Okay. Wow. You don't have a story?:( I usually start with a story and fill it with characters, but it can work the other way round too, it's just a little more difficult. If you don't have a story yet, I'd say start with those characters and ask yourself a number of questions: who are they, why are they there and where are they going? You can use the basic contracts as a frame for the story, but the motivations and reactions of the characters will be key in the absence of a well thought-out plot.
    Story arcs are also important in these kinds of work; make sure you plan ahead and know roughly where you characters are going. As you go along you might find the characters stories overlap too. This will give the series a sense of continuity, making it less episodic, more a fluid narrative (which seems popular these days).
    As for the episodes themselves, well you can always start with the solution (completing the contract) and work out what the problem is, so you can utilise the character's skills. It's like starting at the end of the episode and working backwards.
     
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  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the best way is to have an imagination that's up to the task...
     
  4. outsider
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    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you can't offer the OP any words of encouragement or advice, why bother posting at all?
     
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  5. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Ideas are everywhere. A good way to keep hot topics is look in the news and see what's going on. Look up interesting crimes, court cases, clip things out of the news paper see what will jog your imagination. I just read something in the paper that would make an interesting tidbit in a story - A woman had her locker broken into at a gym. All her jewelry was stolen. Most importantly - a gold necklace of her mother's fingerprint who had died six months earlier.
     
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  6. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    So you already know HOW your characters would go about accomplishing their goals, and you need help figuring out WHAT goals they might want to accomplish?

    Basically, every story boils down to simple arithmetic: "protagonists" (or "actors") + "antagonists" (or "motivations") = "conflict" (or "actions")

    *Some people start exclusively with the protagonists and the antagonists, then figure out later what conflicts would result between the two. (P + A = C)

    *Some people start exclusively with the protagonists and what they will be doing to solve the conflict, then figure out later what antagonists might be responsible. (C - P = A)

    *Some people start exclusively with the antagonists and what conflicts they are responsive for, then figure out what protagonists will solve the conflict. (C - A = P)

    *And some people switch back and forth at different times as they flesh out the details. (P + A - C = 0)

    You already have "Protagonists/Actors," and it sounds like you've been starting with the "Conflict/Actions" while saving the "Antagonists/Motivations" for later. That hasn't been working, so maybe you could try starting with the Antagonists and figuring out a Conflict later?
     
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  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Although I'm not familiar with web comics or animated series, I think maybe what you need to do is step back a bit and spend time with the characters IN YOUR HEAD. Think about them a lot. Picture them as clearly as you can. Put them together in various scenarios. Don't worry about actually writing–although do jot down ideas as they occur to you. But let your ideas cook in an organic way, and don't try to force them. Yet.

    I think every writer needs to spend quiet time just thinking and imagining. Writing too soon, based on a plot outline and a list of characteristics can result in a bland and formulaic product. Get to know AND LOVE your characters before you start getting them written. I think their stories will start to emerge, especially if you put them together in your head and play with them. Play with the settings, too. Do a lot of 'what-iffing.' What if the character grew to be 12 feet tall? What if he encountered a person from his past just as he was constructing a new life for himself? What happens if her family finds out about her special powers?

    Basically, back off and take more time in the thinking stage. It will pay off.
     
  8. Jaguar83
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    Jaguar83 New Member

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    Wow, lots of response. Thanks all. A lot of great, helpful information.
    Thanks for helping out a newbie.
     
  9. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    If you have goals for the characters, you could think of things or situations that would keep them from the goals. Eventually, that turns into a story.
     

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