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Writing for Comix

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    • 1. Why are people so addicted to stories? What makes a good story? Is it what it’s about, or is the way that it’s told? Is it all about the story? Comix for artists | Overview of Writing for Comix shiralee saul | 2009 | shiralee.saul@rmit.edu.au An Overview of Writing for Comix
    • 2. Ubiquitous "The narratives of the world are without number...the narrative is present at all times, in all places, in all societies; the history of narrative begins with the history of mankind; there does not exist, and never has existed, a people without narratives." (Roland Barthes). Comix for artists | Overview of Writing for Comix shiralee saul | 2009 | shiralee.saul@rmit.edu.au
    • 3. Propp's Analysis of Folk Tales Vladimir Propp analysed a whole series of Russian folk tales in the 1920s and decided that the same events kept being repeated in each of the stories. These, he reasoned, were narratemes , or narrative functions , necessary for the narrative to exist. Not all of these functions appear in every story, but they always appear within a specific order. proppian fairy tale generator Formal elements The hero leaves home… Comix for artists | Overview of Writing for Comix shiralee saul | 2009 | shiralee.saul@rmit.edu.au
    • 4. Propp also concluded, in the 100 tales he analyzed, that all the characters could be resolved into only 7 broad character types: 1. The villain — struggles against the hero. 2. The donor — prepares the hero or gives the hero some magical object. 3. The (magical) helper — helps the hero in the quest. 4. The princess and her father — gives the task to the hero, identifies the false hero, marries the hero, often sought for during the narrative. Propp noted that functionally, the princess and the father can not be clearly distinguished. 5. The dispatcher — character who makes the lack known and sends the hero off. 6. The hero or victim/seeker hero — reacts to the donor, weds the princess. 7. [False hero] — takes credit for the hero’s actions or tries to marry the princess. These roles could sometimes be distributed among various individuals (multiple villains),or one character could engage in acts as more than one role, as a father could send his son on the quest & give him a sword, acting as both dispatcher & donor Comix for artists | Overview of Writing for Comix shiralee saul | 2009 | shiralee.saul@rmit.edu.au
    • 5. Joseph Campbell "A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than themself” In 1949 The Hero with a Thousand Faces introduced his idea of the monomyth which outlined some of the archetypal patterns Campbell recognized. Heroes were important to Campbell because, to him, they conveyed universal truths about one's personal self-discovery and self-transcendence, one's role in society, and the relationship between the two. Comix for artists | Overview of Writing for Comix shiralee saul | 2009 | shiralee.saul@rmit.edu.au
    • 6. Joseph Campbell Richard Kemp analyses Star Wars YouTube Into the Woods: A Practical Guide to the Hero's Journey Gamasutra “ We have not even to face the adventure alone, for the heroes of all time, have gone before us: the labyrinth is thoroughly known; we have only to follow the thread of the hero path. And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god, and where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves. Where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence, and where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the World." Comix for artists : shiralee saul 2009 shiralee.saul@rmit.edu.au
    • 7. The Short Form of the Hero Story: (From A Practical Guide to The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Chris Vogel) The hero is introduced in his ordinary world, where he receives the call to adventure. He is reluctant at first but is encouraged by the wise old man or woman to cross the first threshold, where he encounters tests and helpers. He reaches the innermost cave, where he endures the supreme ordeal. He seizes the sword or the treasure and is pursued on the road back to his world. He is resurrected and transformed by his experience. He returns to his ordinary world with a treasure, boon, or elixir to benefit his world. As with any formula, there are pitfalls to be avoided. Following the guidelines of myth too rigidly can lead to a stiff, unnatural structure, and there is danger of being too obvious. The HERO MYTH is a skeleton that should be masked with the details of the individual story, and the structure should not call attention to itself. The order of the hero's stages as given here is only one of many variations. The stages can be deleted, added to, and drastically reshuffled without losing their power. The values of the myth are what's important. The images of the basic version – young heroes seeking magic swords from old wizards, fighting evil dragons in deep caves, etc., – are just symbols, and can be changed infinitely to suit the story at hand. The myth is easily translated to contemporary dramas, comedies, romances, or action-adventures by substituting modern equivalents for the symbolic figures and props of the hero story. The Wise Old Man may be a real shaman or Wizard, but he can also be any kind of mentor or teacher, doctor or therapist, crusty but benign boss, tough but fair top sergeant, parent, grandfather, etc. Modern heroes may not be going into caves and labyrinths to fight their mythical beasts, but they do enter an innermost cave by going into space, to the bottom of the sea, into their own minds, or into the depths of a modern city. The myth can be used to tell the simplest comic book story or the most sophisticated drama. It grows and matures as new experiments are tried within its basic framework. Changing the sex and ages of the basic characters only makes it more interesting, and allows ever more complex webs of understanding to be spun among them. The basic characters can be combined, or divided into several figures to show different aspects of the same idea. The myth is infinitely flexible, capable of endless variation without sacrificing any of its magic. see http://nwcitadel.forgottenrealmsweave.org/showthread.php?t=418 Comix for artists | Overview of Writing for Comix shiralee saul | 2009 | shiralee.saul@rmit.edu.au
    • 8. 7? Plots: Infinite Stories
      • The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker
      • overcoming the monster;
      • rags to riches;
      • the quest;
      • voyage and return;
      • comedy;
      • tragedy;
      • rebirth.
      Google answers 1 - [wo]man vs. nature 2 - [wo]man vs. man 3 - [wo]man vs. the environment 4 - [wo]man vs. machines/technology 5 - [wo]man vs. the supernatural 6 - [wo]man vs. self 7 - [wo]man vs. god/religion Comix for artists | Overview of Writing for Comix shiralee saul | 2009 | shiralee.saul@rmit.edu.au
    • 9. Three-Act Structure The Three-Act structure is critical to good dramatic writing, and each act has specific story moves. Every great movie, book or play that has stood the test of time has a solid Three-Act structure. Comix for artists | Overview of Writing for Comix shiralee saul | 2009 | shiralee.saul@rmit.edu.au
    • 10. Three-Act Structure In the Beginning you introduce the reader to the setting, the characters and the situation (conflict) they find themselves in and their goal. Plot Point 1 is a situation that drives the main character from their “normal” life toward some different conflicting situation that the story is about. (Great stories often begin at Plot Point 1, thrusting the main character right into the thick of things, but they never really leave out Act 1, instead filling it in with back story along the way.) In the Middle the story develops through a series of complications and obstacles, each leading to a mini crisis. Though each of these crises are temporarily resolved, the story leads inevitably to an ultimate crisis—the Climax. As the story progresses, there is a rising and falling of tension with each crisis, but an overall rising tension as we approach the Climax. The resolution of the Climax is Plot Point 2. In the End, the Climax and the loose ends of the story are resolved during the Denouement. Tension rapidly dissipates because it’s nearly impossible to sustain a reader’s interest very long after the climax. Finish your story and get out. Comix for artists | Overview of Writing for Comix shiralee saul | 2009 | shiralee.saul@rmit.edu.au
    • 11. Three-Act Structure Every scene in a script should do two things. FIRST: It should progress the story. The test is, if the scene is removed does it leave a hole in the plot. SECOND: The scene should simultaneously advance the character relationships. Try to accomplish both of these goals in each scene. Comix for artists | Overview of Writing for Comix shiralee saul | 2009 | shiralee.saul@rmit.edu.au
    • 12. Adapting an existing story
      • A short story is usually better to adapt than a novel
      • Identify the key characters and their respective story lines.
      • Detail the main character's inner and outer motivation.
      • List the plot points for each storyline.
      • Choose the BEST ones (each plot point must be unique and more powerful than the last).
      • Do they conform to a 3 act structure?
      Comix for artists | Overview of Writing for Comix shiralee saul | 2009 | shiralee.saul@rmit.edu.au
    • 13. Adapting an existing story Find ways to communicate the ‘inner voice’ of the original Action and Dialogue : Everything that a protagonist character says or does should advance the story and/or give us more understanding of them. Don’t just copy the existing dialogue -- compress it to its essence. Secondary Characters : the primary reason scripts have a love interest or best friend is to draw out the inner world of the protagonist. In other words, it allows the protagonist to articulate or act on their desires, doubts, fears, etc. ‘ Voice-Over’ : comics give you multi-tracks so that you can both give the reader access to unspoken content (though balloons) and an outside commentator (narrator) or extra written information. Comix for artists | Overview of Writing for Comix shiralee saul | 2009 | shiralee.saul@rmit.edu.au

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