So, I set up all these panels so I wouldn't have to draw a bunch of people over and over again. Hopefully, given the various establishing shots previously, we all understand that there are many people in this room. But it's always good to focus more tightly on a character during an emotional scene, so that's my reason. (And not that I just didn't want to draw seven people in a room all together again, obviously.)
Poor Elias, he just keeps getting to deliver bad news. And we'll explore more about Marin's whole deal in her chapter, but I wanted to start hinting at it now. I've been looking forward to addressing how she became a werewolf for awhile, but understandably, that's more of a filler chapter so to speak. I mean, not really, because it's still very pertinent information, but it's definitely a B plot. I keep saying I'm going to shove a shopping montage in here somewhere, and damn it, it's going to happen. That's my favorite type of montage. But anyway, file away that she wants to step up and help but she can't, and there are bigger reasons that have to do with Sara.
Also, Malaya's parents leaving the scene means I only have to draw five people in the next few pages, so SCORE. I want you to all understand my frustration with small crowd scenes.
Anyway, if you've ever paid attention to my ramblings down here in the past, and it seems like a lot of you do, which is awesome but not required at all, then you know that from time to time, I complain about having to rewrite and rework certain scenes. I thought it might help some people if I explain why I have to do that.
See, right about this point in a chapter, we're reaching a major transition in tone. Vincent's been taken, we've got to get him back, so everyone can anticipate that there's action on the horizon. I have to decide at what pace we get there. If we speed through the initial set up, it's like eating dessert and skipping dinner. In the short term, it's awesome! We get dessert/action even sooner! In the long term, you're hungry not long after because you skipped the filling, more essential food. Why did we go straight to the action? Why didn't these events seem to impact anyone significantly? When you breeze past the set up to get to the cool-looking shit, you're taking away from the emotions your characters should have in this situation, and you're taking away from their motivation into acting in the first place.
At the same time, I can't dump a bunch of information on you in these scenes, because it takes away from the tension. I had considered okay, we brought up the Werewolf Council, this would be a good time to explain that! But as I looked at that note in my script (which was basically "explain council here" because I'm too lazy to write shit out), I realized that hey, this scene has a lot of emotions going on. I want to maintain some dramatic tension, and stopping to explain things will kill that tension. There's always space to explain it later, but at the moment, Malaya isn't going to care. She's got one thing on her mind, and it's not more information about werewolves that she doesn't know. But I left that note in there because I had no idea how I'd feel about these pages until I saw them drawn. Maybe it'd be okay? I don't like to write too far ahead because I don't know how I'll feel about a scene until I actually draw it out and decide in each panel how characters should be reacting.
In general, I practice "character first" writing. The general idea is that if you understand who your characters are, you know how they'll react to things. So I know Malaya is anxious and unsure of herself, but she's also a little firey under all that. She doesn't always think ahead before acting, because frankly, she's lived a pretty sheltered life and hasn't had to worry about it. Therefore, I know I can throw her into any given situation (bear attack, suddenly abducted by aliens, pirate AU) and I'll generally know who she's going to be in that situation and how she'll react. Same with Elias, same with any of these characters. (Vincent is still a bit of a mystery, but I know his general motivations, and he's not a very open guy anyway. We'll explore him more later in the story.) Granted, it took me awhile to figure out who the hell these characters are, but that's normal. You don't have to nail it down from the beginning.
Therefore, the whole plot of this story is built from the ground up using my characters as the motivating factor for everything that happens. Mal could have just not answered the door when Elias came by that first night, but she's not the kind of character who wouldn't open the door (without thinking). Aubrey could have just not confronted her in the alley (and then run away!), but she's motivated by Connie and her pack and her own bravado, so of course she was going to do that. And if Mal had a cooler head, she might not have transformed into a giant beast.
Hopefully all this makes sense, but if you need more resources, I recommend:
The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri
- So, this guy is pretty old school. I read this in college and it changed how I wrote thereafter for the better. He uses examples from plays, because this book was written in the 40's, I believe. The examples are great. Be aware there's an edition from 2008 that apparently blows, but I'd bet you can find it at the library.
Any books by James N. Frey in his "how to write a damn good novel" series.
- I specifically read The Key: How to Write Damn Good Fiction Using the Power of Myth
because that's what my library had. He goes over a lot of the same stuff that Egri does about character first writing, along with a lot of stuff about building a plot and laying things out. Overall, I liked his book quite a bit and found it easy to read.
Film Critic Hulk dissects the five act structure
- Okay, this is sort of a hilarious example, but it's good! It's really good! Like, this whole article did wonders for me when I was trying to learn how to lay out a basic rising plot. Worth a read, all in caps, written like the Hulk speaks. Better than a lot of academic material I've read on the subject.
Matt Stone and Trey Parker's storytelling tricks
- I had a hell of a time finding a working video of this, but it's great. Basically, the guys who made South Park have a very basic way of making an episode move ahead. Instead of going from one scene to another (this happens, then this happens, then this happens), you want to make sure that your scenes fit together (this happens, therefore this happens, and because that happened, this happens, therefore this happens, etc.). Linking your scenes together so that everything leads and flows into each other is imperative. You want your story to drag the reader/viewer/whatever along without a choice but to keep reading.
Okay, there's my short storytelling master class! I'm off to eat breakfast.