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I have to wait at least another couple of weeks for my copy of ORAS ;_; so while I stew, let's talk about the most neglected step in writing fan comics.

When good comics go bad

Though the comic's general storyline has been worked out well in advance, the plan is a rough one and things can and do change quite a lot when we get down to writing individual pages. 

Here's an example:

Shortly after starting work on Book 4 I had a sudden nasty realization that the events we had planned weren't going to work out in the order we'd intended them. In fact, it seemed very much like an entire story arc and a new character were not going to fit with what we needed to do, and it was an arc and character we'd both been looking forward to.

We discussed it and found out we both felt the same way: the arc would have to be scrapped.

Maggs: I have been unable to figure out a way to use [REDACTED] that wouldn't scupper the requisite book finale where Gengar is [REDACTED] and Jen [REDACTED]. If [REDACTED] is used at all they'll expect [REDACTED] to show up on Mt. Freeze. Furthermore, [REDACTED] greatly increases the complexity of the narrative, which is already too complex. Book 4 needs to pull together everything that's already there, not add even more to the stew, because it's in danger of falling apart.
Night: I wonder then if we should even have [REDACTED], Victini might well be at the point where the villain fumes and takes matters in their own hands because they've had enough of the lackey screwing up

(sorry about all the censorship there, I know it looks a bit like an SCP entry but you probably don't want the ending spoiled yet)

Sometimes things need to die

Long-term readers may know that this is in fact the second (well, technically third) version of the comic - there was an entire alternative version of Book 1 which was posted on a small Pokemon fan forum as a test. Based on that feedback, we threw the whole thing out and started over. It wasn't even negative feedback--we felt that what they were getting from the comic was not what we wanted to do with it.

Night: sometimes you have to take a hammer to it and remodel, just how it is
Night: sometimes it breaks your heart, but if you have to you have to, you know?

Night and Maggs hack a page apart

The main challenge for writing dialogue in Victory Fire is that there simply isn't much room. Our page templates are tiny, and fixed in size - which means we have to be sure that every word counts. The upper limit for us seems to be around 140 words per page - any more than that and the balloons start to drown out the images, which is never a good thing.

We try to cut out anything that isn't absolutely necessary. If at all possible, we'll tell it with pictures instead. "Murder your darlings": as a writer, phrases that you're in love with are often bad for the story, though they may be quite beautiful in themselves. 

The first version of 281 (written up by me, in the chat) had Gengar being much more explicit in his irritation with Kecleon:

"So, now you've managed to split us up, what's really going on?"
"I… told you the truth. Keldeo offered to help by taking Jen…"
"Pretty convenient though, isn't it? C'mon, say your piece, I know you're waiting to."

Here we are talking about it:

Night: you can raise a doubt without the other party really believing it though is what I mean, he has reason to have faith in Gengar
Maggs: yes but from a storytelling point of view, we introduced this concept and if we don't follow up on it it's a pointless damp squib
Maggs: besides, Gengar IS going to end up [REDACTED] so Keldeo's technically RIGHT
Night: not if maybe K is a bit offended for Gengar's sake or something, maybe touch on that
Maggs: i can do that in the gengar/kecleon scene perhaps, maybe that's what brings Gengar back
Maggs: but i think the scene still has to happen, or we go back to the end of book 3 and think of a new hook
Night: I'm fine with it but I feel K MUST have more conviction for Gengar being a good person and one he trusts, or K just looks like a royal butt
Maggs: so you're cool with the elements, it's just the dialogue that needs dealing with?
Night: I think it's the dialogue that needs dealing with

It wasn't right. The emotions were right, but Gengar consciously articulating his feelings like that was out of character (he's not the most emotionally aware character to start with!). And Kecleon's dialogue was off as a result, because he was responding to what Gengar was saying. So, most of the initial words got tossed. Instead, we see Gengar's resentment through his actions: the attempt to dismiss Kecleon ("Go take your meds, old man"), and when pressed, the angry gesture tossing the water he was about to drink. This easily halved the number of words on the page :)

PMD: VF - 281 - Warning by sulfurbunny

Our initial drafts of dialogue are often literally thrown together in a few minutes in chat. That's okay, because they are not intended to be what goes on the finished page! They're a way for us to figure out what we actually want to do with the page. And once we know where we're going, we just have to get there… 

Edit: messed around with the journal a bit as some people got worried we were ending the comic. No, I'm just showing some of what goes on behind the scenes. See, I even had to edit this because it didn't work first time :D

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zack-viz Featured By Owner 4 days ago  Hobbyist Artist
Thank youuuu Music Note for the Llama :thumbsup:
shinyfeatherleader Featured By Owner 5 days ago
thanks for the llama
CameronEXO Featured By Owner 6 days ago
Thanks for the llama *cuddles you with my dragon wings*
Made111 Featured By Owner 6 days ago
thanks for the llama !
D685ab7f-pis Featured By Owner 6 days ago
omg thanks for the llama so much~ QwQ Love your comic keep on doing~ ^(>w<)^
sjui00 Featured By Owner 6 days ago
thanks for llama!
MaleticAnimeWatcher Featured By Owner 6 days ago  Hobbyist General Artist
thx for the llama and keep going on the art
Veneren426 Featured By Owner 6 days ago
Obligatory ty for llama comment. OTL

More importantly though, thank you for the comic! It gives me something to look forward to and it is always on time. If there is anything I can never get enough of, it is a good story.
lovingraichu101 Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2014  Student Artisan Crafter
Oh my gosh thank you so much for the llama! ;w; I love your PMD comic and your art! :D
inviseon25 Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2014
thx for the llama
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