Forum > Webcomic & Art discussion > 30 Days of Questions About Your Plot, 2021 Edition
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"30 Days of Questions About Your Plot, 2021 Edition", 1st Jul 2021, 3:34 PM #1
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We had the original, we had the sequel, now it's time to run this series into the ground with a threequel. That's right, it's Plot-Crafting July, 2021 Edition. A themed thread to help you make your plot better, hear others' ideas, and most importantly, have some fun.

For those who haven't seen it before, the gist of the thread is "guided introspection". It's not instructions on how to make your plot better, it's a series of questions, one per day, prompting you to think about your plot in some way, and hopefully that process of thinking about it will help you figure out how to make it even better. Maybe others will have comments on your own answers - this is a conversation, not just an essay - but ultimately, the one who knows what's best for your story is, inevitably, you.

You can do it for however many comics you're making, if you're mad enough to multitask. You can do it for comics you're deep into publishing, or comics you haven't even finished planning. You can focus on your current plotline, or on your larger story, or both. You can do it for a story in a different medium, a novel or screenplay - all the questions will work for pretty much any narrative. And if you came into this thread three weeks late, go ahead and catch up on the ones you missed - though you might want to spoiler-tag any big walls of text, to be polite. This is plotcrafting, there's not a lot of rules.

Since we'll be talking about Plot, some of your answers may veer into Spoiler territory. Post whatever you're comfortable with. If you want to put spoilers behind spoiler tags, that's fine. If you want to write your answers in the form of inscrutable riddles, that could be fun. Even if you don't want to post your answers, you may benefit from just writing them out.

For those of you who have participated before, the questions haven't changed much. You may not have much to gain, if you're still working on the same story as you were last time. But if you've entered a new arc in the past year, or are beginning a new comic, this is a great way to start. And I know we have a lot of new faces on the forums, who I'd be glad to see join in the fun.

Question threads such as this tend to work better with sample answers - plus, I like to join in on the fun, too. But since I haven't actually made a webcomic in like a decade, the past two years, I've done successively smaller slices of the story of the video game I'm working on. This year continues the pattern, narrowing down to just the second "sector", the smallest subdivision that still has a self-contained story with its own plot. I could have done the first sector, but with where I'm at on the coding/designing side, the second one fits better. Random note: the protagonist is partially customizable by the player, including both name and gender. For this series I'm going to use the name "Turner" and male pronouns for the protagonist; next year I'll probably choose otherwise.

The current question is:
#25: What groundwork has to be laid in prior scenes to make the climax work?
Most stories spend most of their time building towards the climax. In almost all of them, the climax hinges in some way on earlier scenes - the characters, their motivations, their skills, their personalities, or perhaps some item or an aspect of the world (particularly in fantasy/scifi).
What setup does your climax need, and where does that happen? Note that you might be hammering home some info multiple times, to make sure the audience remembers it when the time comes.

Previous Questions:
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1st Jul 2021, 4:00 PM #2
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#01: What is the elevator pitch for your story?
Basically, in short, it's about a rag-tag group of superheroes in space trying to take down an evil empire trying to take over the galaxy. However, these superheroes aren't very good at it, especially the main character who is kind of oblivious. It's also about trying to overcome almost impossible odds and breaking through tough situations.
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1st Jul 2021, 4:12 PM #3
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My goodness, if it's really been a year since I took part with Two Shades of Purple and an older version of Ragdoll Stories then it goes to show how little I've been working on either since then.

While I've changed the story from the ground-up for RS, I'll probably only be answering questions here and there as what the comic's *about* hasn't really changed. I'll have my eyes around here, and I love how this is back for another round c;
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1st Jul 2021, 5:14 PM #4
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#01: What is the elevator pitch for your story?

My comic follows numerous magical girls as they attempt to navigate a bizarre world where virtually anything is possible while struggling to handle their responsibilities as the primary protectors and guardians of the universe.

The comic is filled with zany and absurd sutuations, hyperbolic fight scenes, tons of fanservice, a large and diverse cast of wacky characters, and a surreal and whimsical sense of humor.

The comic is updated daily, and each page is self-contained, so there's always something new every day!
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1st Jul 2021, 6:08 PM #5
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#01: What is the elevator pitch for your story?

A world of magic is in decline. The path of renewal must be trod once more, but is it really the path of light, or mired in darkness? If it works, does it matter? A tale about believing in ones self enough to war against the stars, or two mages arguing over if they should let the cleric fulfill his martyr complex.
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The world of Edos is on the verge of crisis, but also opportunity for a fresh mage to make his mark on it.
1st Jul 2021, 6:13 PM #6
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Yay, it's back!

#01: What is the elevator pitch for your story?


Darkness lurks in the forests of the northern Kingdoms. War looms on the horizon. Dark wizards perform their unspeakable rituals at nights as vampires, werewolves and other beasts prey on innocent travelers. Only the Order of the Black Rose and the Crimson Knights who serve it stand between the evil and the helpless people of the north.
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1st Jul 2021, 6:15 PM #7
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This year, the story is Nero and the Executioner, which takes two of my Pathfinder PCs and lets them team up.

1.
Nero, a kitsune, is uprooted from his life when a refugee gnoll, Bastard, stays at the inn Nero works at. With no one else to turn to, Nero and Bas team up to bring justice to the Lord who betrayed Bas. It is not an easy journey, though, as they encounter mercenaries, monsters, and other problems in their adventure.
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1st Jul 2021, 7:31 PM #8
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WynautWarrior:Basically, in short, it's about a rag-tag group of superheroes in space trying to take down an evil empire trying to take over the galaxy. However, these superheroes aren't very good at it, especially the main character who is kind of oblivious. It's also about trying to overcome almost impossible odds and breaking through tough situations.


A solid pitch, but I can't help but feel like you could punch it up a bit. An elevator pitch is supposed to be exciting, intriguing, and this feels more like a Wikipedia description.

Maybe something like "In the far reaches of space, all that stands between an evil empire and galactic conquest are a rag-tag band of superheroes. Pity they aren't very good at it - the leader is oblivious, the <other person> is <other character fault>, and <third person> is <yet another fault>."?

KitapiMD:My goodness, if it's really been a year since I took part with Two Shades of Purple and an older version of Ragdoll Stories then it goes to show how little I've been working on either since then.

While I've changed the story from the ground-up for RS, I'll probably only be answering questions here and there as what the comic's *about* hasn't really changed. I'll have my eyes around here, and I love how this is back for another round c;


Yeah, I think a lot of us didn't get everything we wanted to done in 2020. I was supposed to be doing a series of worldbuilding threads, and, uh, that never happened. Gonna try to get those prepped while running this, but I have a lot of research to try to condense down for those. I can assume everyone here knows basic storytelling - I can't really assume everyone knows biochemistry or logistics.

PS: I rearranged a lot of questions and tweaked a few, but I think the only one I outright replaced was #15, if you want to come back for that one.

Jaycee Storm:My comic follows numerous magical girls as they attempt to navigate a bizarre world where virtually anything is possible while struggling to handle their responsibilities as the primary protectors and guardians of the universe.

The comic is filled with zany and absurd sutuations, hyperbolic fight scenes, tons of fanservice, a large and diverse cast of wacky characters, and a surreal and whimsical sense of humor.

The comic is updated daily, and each page is self-contained, so there's always something new every day!


This does a good job describing the tone and the premise (and you even found space to cram in some production stats), but is there anything more you could add about a unique selling point? Or something else to draw people in, like an unanswered question or an unresolved problem? As you've pitched it, I don't know if it would stand out against all the other magical-girl action-comedies.

DeadlyAssassin:Darkness lurks in the forests of the northern Kingdoms. War looms on the horizon. Dark wizards perform their unspeakable rituals at nights as vampires, werewolves and other beasts prey on innocent travelers. Only the Order of the Black Rose and the Crimson Knights who serve it stand between the evil and the helpless people of the north.


An excellent pitch! It sets a lovely tone - well, the tone is grim and ugly, but I'm pretty sure that's the tone you're going for.

Jeremy7:Nero, a kitsune, is uprooted from his life when a refugee gnoll, Bastard, stays at the inn Nero works at. With no one else to turn to, Nero and Bas team up to bring justice to the Lord who betrayed Bas. It is not an easy journey, though, as they encounter mercenaries, monsters, and other problems in their adventure.


Phrasing feels a bit clunky but it hits a lot of good points. Maybe focus the pitch on one character's perspective - the innkeep being suddenly uprooted, or the refugee turning to the only person he can. I think that would amplify the emotional appeal - "how much would you do, for a complete stranger?" is a good question to leave them wanting more.
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1st Jul 2021, 7:49 PM #9
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Hm...hard not to reference other stories, when it's a Pokemon comic based loosely on an HG Wells novel. But, I'll try!

#01: What is the elevator pitch for your story?
A young pet dragon, desperate to prove himself powerful, makes a violent mistake and feels betrayed by his friends. Charges were pressed, but two shady scientists jumped in to save him before he was put down. From there, he had his DNA stripped down and reconstructed into a human form, and is using that to his advantage to enact revenge on his teammates, feeling like they were the reason he was in this predicament. Now he and his former team are on a journey of self discovery, forgiveness, and acceptance.
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1st Jul 2021, 7:57 PM #10
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Let’s try this again. I’ve changed quite a few things about my plot since the last time so maybe it’ll actually be good! :P

#01: What is the elevator pitch for your story?

129 years after what should’ve been the end of the world, a man trying to hide a troubled past suddenly obtains powers in an accident. This wraps him up along with his sister, his friend, and an inter-dimensional ally in a government conspiracy to finish what was started over a century ago. Now they’re on the run from the law, with no one to turn to except each other in a cross-country journey. And yet, the protagonist has to grapple with his inner demons if he can ever have a chance of keeping the world and his loved ones safe. There are plenty of reminders of the actions he left behind, and they just might come out of the woodwork now.

EDIT: a slight revision. I just removed some of the more unnecessary bits

129 years after what should’ve been the end of the world, a man hiding a troubled past suddenly obtains powers in an accident. This wraps him up along with his sister, his friend, and an inter-dimensional ally in a government conspiracy. Now they’re on the run from the law, with no one to turn to except each other. And yet, the protagonist has to grapple with his inner demons if he’s to ever have a chance of keeping people safe. There are plenty of reminders of the actions he left behind, and they just might come out of the woodwork now.
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1st Jul 2021, 8:24 PM #11
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RockCandyAsylum:Hm...hard not to reference other stories, when it's a Pokemon comic based loosely on an HG Wells novel. But, I'll try!

#01: What is the elevator pitch for your story?
A young pet dragon, desperate to prove himself powerful, makes a violent mistake and feels betrayed by his friends. Charges were pressed, but two shady scientists jumped in to save him before he was put down. From there, he had his DNA stripped down and reconstructed into a human form, and is using that to his advantage to enact revenge on his teammates, feeling like they were the reason he was in this predicament. Now he and his former team are on a journey of self discovery, forgiveness, and acceptance.


I think "It's a Pokemon fancomic" is reasonable. That warning was more to avoid the trite "it's THIS plus THIS" descriptions that people seem to love doing. "It's Robin Hood plus CSI". "It's A Cask of Amontillado with lesbians". "It's Harry Potter meets All Quiet on the Western Front". "It's the Iliad, except disguised as a slice-of-life anime".

And okay I would totally read at least two of those stupid examples, but that's not a good way to focus on what your story is doing that nobody else is, which is sort of the point of an elevator pitch. It's not just "this is what is interesting", but "this is what I'm selling that you can't get anywhere else".

I'm not exactly in the fandom so idk if "pokemon-human hybrids" is actually unique, but I've certainly never seen it before. You could probably focus more on that than all the fiddly details of the setup.

Bizfurd:129 years after what should’ve been the end of the world, a man trying to hide a troubled past suddenly obtains powers in an accident. This wraps him up along with his sister, his friend, and an inter-dimensional ally in a government conspiracy to finish what was started over a century ago. Now they’re on the run from the law, with no one to turn to except each other in a cross-country journey. And yet, the protagonist has to grapple with his inner demons if he can ever have a chance of keeping the world and his loved ones safe. There are plenty of reminders of the actions he left behind, and they just might come out of the woodwork now.


First, gotta say, "129 years after what should've been the end of the world" is a great line.

I think the rest of your pitch kind of over-complicates things, trying to cram too much of the story into five sentences instead of just highlighting the most important bits. But it's got a great start.
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1st Jul 2021, 8:26 PM #12
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GMan003:


This does a good job describing the tone and the premise (and you even found space to cram in some production stats), but is there anything more you could add about a unique selling point? Or something else to draw people in, like an unanswered question or an unresolved problem? As you've pitched it, I don't know if it would stand out against all the other magical-girl action-comedies.


Good point. My pitch could indeed use a tad bit more originality. I'll try this again, this time from a different perspective:

What do you do when you need to make a quick buck and you just so happen to have magical abilities? Answer: You join the Black Lotus Society and become a magical girl! But wait, what did you just sign up for? Every single day, you're forced to go on insane adventures, battle unimaginably bizarre villains, travel to the strangest worlds and galaxies, and put up with your annoying co-workers! Join Cielo Rodriguez and numerous other magical girls of the Black Lotus Society as they try to navigate a bizarre and absurd world while still trying to handle their responsibilities as the primary protectors of the galaxy!
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1st Jul 2021, 10:26 PM #13
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I followed along with this last year and it was certainly an interesting thought exercise. Guess I'll put my current project through here this time, a Klonoa fancomic coming Soon™ to a Comic Fury near you! (Whether this is an advisable course of action is anyone's guess...)

((What is the elevator pitch for your story?))
"When the Dream Traveler fails to dream, a new journey in search of answers begins in the space between worlds and between dreams. With the help of a fellow traveler in the void, the dream-hopping adventurer Klonoa seeks out the authorities of the dreamscape, his previous heroic deeds giving him confidence in his ability to brave whatever this mysterious place can throw at him. But no hero is perfect, and the mistakes of the past have a way of finding those who made them."
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1st Jul 2021, 10:56 PM #14
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Oho! This sounds fun and useful, I'm in!
I'll be joining with two stories: the comic I'm currently working on, and another one that I might start soon.
....I sure do hate elevator pitches with a passion though... but here we go

#01: What is the elevator pitch for your story?

Road to Kerridon
The country of Gondale is breaking. Earthquakes shatter the land, villages drown in floods, and once-peaceful creatures turn violent. Ancient magic, buried deep underground and long forgotten, seeps through the cracks of the world, searching once again for the light of day. Things best left untouched have been tampered with, and all forbidden things have consequences.
A group of travellers, each plagued by their own troubles, will soon get caught up in the middle of it all... and discover that they are not so unrelated to this mess as they thought they were.


The Guarding Tree
((title not final))
Hiro just wanted to survive high school, keep his single dad from overworking himself, and make it into college. If only his town weren't a hotspot for youkai- troublesome supernatural beings-, and if only they weren't so determined to make things difficult for him, maybe he could catch a break once in a while. But when his friends decide to make a habit of searching for youkai after dark (and dragging him along), and when the immortal tree that guards the town suddenly starts dying, a lot of secrets come to light-- secrets that were kept from Hiro, and secrets that Hiro himself has been keeping. Seems like he won't be able to catch a break after all...


((feedback and criticism appreciated))
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2nd Jul 2021, 2:05 AM #15
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I suck so hard at things like this, but here we go anyways...


#01: What is the elevator pitch for your story?

Nagi is good natured vagabond just enjoying life, but after helping a small town with a dark secret, he gets unceremoniously dragged into a race to find the legendary Secras, a power artefact that can either save the world or destroy it.
And it needs to be found before it falls into the wrong, powerfully corrupted, hands.
This is not his problem though, but as he tries to escape his dilemma he finds his way blocked by cynical magical beings, demonic dragons and immortal serial killers.
And as he learns the twisted truths about the world and people around him, he also learns of the twistedness within himself, and it seems that all of this is much more his problem than he thought it was.
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2nd Jul 2021, 2:24 AM #16
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#1 Elevator pitch

I have two versions for different purposes. One is hook first. The other is sympathy grasp first.

A caustic crime lord with old debts and an alien migrant meet at the crossroad of danger and opportunity. Nothing good follows.

And the longer:

Maks is an 18 year old Amka migrant with nothing to lose, but the American Dream isn't for everyone. He's three months into his new life, and no one will hire him. He lives on the good will of a Swathi anthropology student named Kio, but that-- like most things -- goes up in smoke. After losing everything, he stumbles into an opportunity. He can make a living. It's too bad that it's running things for the mob. But maybe blood money isn't so bad? Swallow that conscience and buckle up.

The longer one is weaker by leaps and bounds and doesn't snap as nice.
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2nd Jul 2021, 2:59 AM #17
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Gonna think about my vampire story some more. :D

#01: What is the elevator pitch for your story?

A vampire hunter is turned into the very thing she despises. After years in captivity, she breaks free of her sire's will and reclaims the title of hunter. With the help of a young hunter, she begins another hunt - to destroy her sire and regain her memories, freedom, and name.
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2nd Jul 2021, 5:04 AM #18
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#01: What is the elevator pitch for your story?
Shairi's supernatural, immensely powerful (or so she thinks), cunning (her own words!) and completely spoiled. After several millenia-long accidental imprisonment, she finds herself stuck in a brave new world where nothing she knew matters and no one covers in fear at her sight anymore. Used to live like a princess, now she's only offered a dead end spaceside job because she's not eligible for hazard pay. Under a boss who keeps calling her "Shirley".
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2nd Jul 2021, 2:31 PM #19
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Moving on, we've got our second question:

#02: What is the overarching theme of your story?
Every story has some kind of theme, though some are more or less obvious about it. What is yours?
Even if you didn't deliberately insert one, themes have a way of just happening by accident. Look at the elements spread across your story. Does anything stand out as a repeated or common inclusion?

My Answer:
The overarching theme of the story is anti-authoritarianism, but I didn't deliberately include that here, this early in the story. I think it showed up anyway, as "even good authorities can't be relied on" seems to be the theme of this section.
Turner hopped back in time, at the end of the last section, intent on killing an evil Emperor who was about to launch a massive invasion, starting a bloody, decades-long war. His assassination attempt fails, so instead he tries to raise the alarm - maybe if the other nations are ready, they can keep the war short. But in every case, his warnings seem to fall on deaf ears. "There hasn't been a war in thousands of years, so why should we trust you, random person nobody's heard of?". Instead of raising armies, all he's able to get is a few individuals.
It's sort of a warning against complacency, that you need to take threats seriously before they become a crisis. (And believe it or not, this part of the story was outlined way back in 2018. It wasn't written as a response to the Covid debacle, but I admit, it could certainly be read that way.)
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2nd Jul 2021, 3:11 PM #20
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OK, here we go gain...

#01: What is the elevator pitch for your story?

For the current chapter of Cryptida (henceforth called "Chapter 26"):
Emily Eriksson is just starting a new chapter of her life in an exciting metropolis.
Her roommate is secretly a mermaid.
And there's a sinister figure who is after said mermaid...

For the next chapter of Cryptida (henceforth called "Chapter 27"):
Peter Pech picks up playing guitar.
Unfortunately though, said guitar is possessed.


#02: What is the overarching theme of your story?

Chapter 26:
I'd say... the importance of community and & friends having your back?

Chapter 27:
Coping with (and ultimately overcoming) lovesickness perhaps...
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Forum > Webcomic & Art discussion > 30 Days of Questions About Your Plot, 2021 Edition
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