Saturday, October 30, 2010

1.9 Dealing with Problem / Find a Solution

This may not be the most important part of our One-Shot, but it can be the hardest. To help us we need to surround ourselves with the Climax, Ending, Introduction, and Complication as I laid out earlier. Without those 4 done first, we won’t have a clue on how to fill in this section. In novel terms, this area would be considered the sagging middle. This is where we run the risk of losing the reader if it’s too boring or stretched out. But luckily for us we aren’t writing a novel, we’re doing a One-Shot.

To help us out more our One-Shot is only 16 pages. By using a modest amount of pages and knowing where the most important parts of our One-Shot will occupy, we won’t bore the reader with a sagging middle at all. Instead we only have 4 pages. Not enough to bore the reader, and just enough to get the characters to the Climax.

4 pages means we have 2 Pagination Areas left. The same rule applies here as it did with the Complication/Problem. We could use all 4 pages to make one scene for Dealing with Problem/ Find a Solution, or cut in half and have two separate scenes. Again we’ll figure that out by using our story and artwork together to flesh out the details.

Overall this section isn’t for character introductions. Our Protagonist and Antagonist should already be established by this point. And they shouldn’t be so complex that the reader can’t quickly identify with them. However this area can be used for additional character development. Remember this a comic book. We have dialog and pictures to throw information to the reader. Any actions or dialog that takes place in this section can be used to give the reader a better understanding of the characters in the story.

When we first introduced our characters, we aren’t forced to tell everything about them right off the bat. The rest of the story, and mainly this section, can be used to describe them better. Remember all the subcategories for each Climax and Ending? Those subcategories will help us decide what path our characters will take in this section, leading up to the Climax and Ending.

By choosing a Climax and Ending before hand, we can use that knowledge to help us write out this section. It might seem a little complex, so consider this example. Say we want to make a One-Shot about a hostage situation. This will be simple, but it will show how working around our story structure will help us flesh out the entire 16 pages.

We’ll start with an Ending. The Hostages are saved. This will have a good ending, that is so far it does. Now on to the Climax. Lets have our Protagonist save the hostages by negotiating with the Antagonist. Ok, not the most action packed story. However this is just one route we can take to make sure we land on our good ending. We are now committed to a Comedy Climax and Ending. In the sub category for Comedy the 3rd option is, the Protagonist succeeds because he takes up a good behavior or trait. To reach this conclusion we‘ll have our Protagonist start off as a trigger happy lawman, and have him acquire a good trait by dealing with the hostage situation in a peaceful manner.

Now that we established the Climax and Ending, lets do the Introduction/Inciting Incident. Since we got a hostage situation lets start it out with the hostages being taken. This will introduce our Antagonist. It could be one person, or a group of baddies. We could start it off by having it be a bank robbery and when the Introduction is finished we’ll have our Problem set up in the next section. The hostage situation.

With a Problem in place we can now inject our Protagonist into the story in this section. This could be done with him in his everyday life then all of a sudden being contacted about the hostage situation, or have him show up on the scene and talk to his superiors. We have several routes to take so the choice is ours. We have 4 pages, 2 Pagination Areas, to elaborate on our Protagonist until he sets forth to deal with the Problem. Plenty of space to give the reader just enough information about our Protagonist.

Now we’re left with Finding a Solution. Since we know our Protagonist will deal with the situation peacefully, we need to use this section to get him to the Climax. Again the choice is ours. We could have him sneak into the bank where the hostages are ( action orientated ), or have him confront the Antagonist and negotiate a trade ( dialog orientated ). The options are endless, but in the end it’s up to use on what we want to do. Do we want to make it a witty dialog story, or do we want a lot of action?
In the end the first 4 sections will help us flesh out the Find the Solution part of our One-Shot. The choice on where want to take our Protagonist is totally up to us, but by surrounding this section with our beginning and ending, we have the information we need to fill out this crucial area. We could also change our Climax and Ending to have a shoot out, end in a Tragedy where the hostages are killed, or have our Protagonist sacrifice himself. Again the choice is ours, and whatever changes we make to one section will effect all the other sections.
The Finding a Solution section is where most people, like myself, traditionally get stuck when making a One-Shot, but if we work our way around the entire story like we do when we draw a person then we’ll have guides in place to help us make sure it’s all in proportion. And if something doesn’t feel right, we can go back and change the other sections to make sure this one works well for us.

So lets see how our entire One-Shot will look proportionally on our 16 page layout.

This is the kind of structure all our One-Shots will have, again consistency. As I mentioned before, we are not limited to what kind of stories we want to tell, nor how we start or end them. And we do have rules in place to make sure we don’t get side track. Those rules are page limits on scenes, use the first 2 sections to introduce your characters, and  the Climax and Ending should match. Even with these little rules in pace, we still have a lot of wiggle room to be as creative as we want to be.

However something doesn’t look right. As I mentioned earlier we started out of order, or at least not in the way it‘s going to be read. We went Climax, Ending, Inciting Incident, Complication/Problem, and then Finding a Solution when coming up with the story. But as the picture above shows it doesn‘t look like that. One thing we could do is set up our thumbnails in the process of which we set up our story structure.

It also won’t hurt to draw our comic book in that order as well. If that sounds weird, imagine this. You really want to make a comic book and you started drawing it out at the beginning. You’re currently drawing page 3 and the end seems so far away. Well if you shuffle the order in which you draw your comic book you won’t get that feeling. In fact the page numbers won’t mean anything to you. All you’ll know is the sections and scenes you have to do and what order to do them in. And when you got your Climax, Ending, and Introduction all done, doing the middle work is easy.

Let’s see what doing it that way would look like.

This is another way to tackle a One-Shot. For starters our Climax and Ending are going to be what sells the whole package. They will require the most work and should be done first, but it‘s not required. However the reason we might consider doing that is because sometimes we artists tend to rush things when we get closer to finishing. We don’t want to spend all our time doing the first 5 pages just to phone in it on the most important section, do we?

Doing the Ending and Climax first as thumbnails and finished pages will be insurance to make sure that if we do rush any of the artwork, it’s only the pages leading up to Climax and Ending. Therefore our overall quality remains consistent. Plus by knowing we already have the Ending and Climax finished, we might actually take our time on the other sections.

It’s just a way of tricking ourselves into doing a better job. Doing it in the order it’s read will only make us rush without knowing it, because in the back of our brain we want to see it all finished. By treating each of the four sections as different groups we’re only concentrated on the task at hand. It might take some getting use too, but if you’re like me and have a hard time finishing what you started, this is the best way to go about it.

Now that we know how many pages we’ll have, what will make up those pages using both writing and artwork, and how are story will go we need to move on to the next step before we write or draw anything else. And that’s paneling. Whether you’re just an artist or just a writer it doesn’t matter. If we don’t know how paneling works we can’t draw or write anything. The two must work together, so paneling knowledge is required for both.

This is an esential read. Also be sure to check out Scott's website to explore other ideas and exercises. Like the 24 hour comic.

Even if you prefer manga, this book is old school. It's full of the basics to get the ball rolling.

Even more old school. This is a must have book to learn how to create Sequential Art. Even the pros use this book.

There are a ton of How to Draw Manga Books, but this one is the complete package. It covers everything one will need to know to get started. Highly recommended.

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