If, like me, you watched the series Lost right up to the very end (and I’m in the minority that enjoyed the ending), you’ll know how juggling multiple open plot threads can cause a great premise to fall apart at the seams.
This is the focus of my latest interview with the wonderful comic site A Place to Hang Your Cape, which you can read here:
I largely chat with them about keeping a coherent narrative in the context of our second series, the dark fantasy saga Vessels. This is the first comic I wrote that had multiple plots running in tandem.
And 100% this has led to a lot of headaches, learnings and rewrite along the way. But as with all creative endeavours, the only way to get good is to put in the hours and try.
As a result I’ve scrapped and completely restarted the script for Vessels #5 over 15 times now – the significance of this being the halfway point of our series is a real factor.
Why? Well, because I write all my comics knowing how they’re going to end, and the key plot beats it’ll take for me to guide my characters to the finish line. Everything in between can really trip you up.
In Vessels you have four plot strands going on at once – the heroes, the Vessels, Orall’s plot and the Memorata story. Up until issue five things were going simply and smoothly, but at 5th issue, I’m having to really take stock of the pages we have left until the story’s done.
It’s a ten part series so you might think that having five more issues is plenty of space to hit everything we set out to achieve, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
In comics, rhythm and pacing are key. You have to map out your story to so there’s compelling page turners mapped out, so that information and key plot is doled out without leaning on lazy exposition, and there’s equally enough time to add slower moments where the art does the talking.
All of this matters (and this isn’t even the full extent of the considerations).
I find that keeping story arc ‘bibles’ is helpful – quick cliff notes that explain roughly in each issue what happens. Then a layer down i might make a flow chart to map out where all the characters are, and the events leading up to their next key story ‘beat.’
It works for me, but everyone has their own plan off attack? What’s yours? How do you plan out your epic saga?