What makes a story good? (How to write a good story)

Discuss the art of creating art here. Share tutorials and tips with your fellow comic creators.

What makes a story good? (How to write a good story)

Postby AuroraArt » March 30th, 2016, 4:08 pm

For a while, I've been learning how to write comics. Tips on storytelling, making compelling and relatable characters, and story arc. I even looked at sites to help me out.

But I thought it'd be interesting to learn from other creators here on SJF. I see that many different people create interesting stories. So my question is: What makes a story good? What are the best writing techinques that creators can use? How can I make interesting characters? This is not only for me, but for others that want to do storytelling for comics. Kind of like a learning experience for everyone.

Your thoughts, tips, and advice are always welcomed. Let's discuss, fellow creators!
Last edited by AuroraArt on April 19th, 2016, 3:45 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Image
User avatar
AuroraArt
 
Posts: 196
Joined: May 9th, 2011, 8:20 am

Re: What makes a good story?

Postby TheFunTrain » March 30th, 2016, 6:19 pm

What contributes to a good story for me is a strong hook and pacing. I have the attention span of a gnat and it shows whenever I can be bothered to draw. Many authors on SJ are trying for a more serious tone than my goofy sketch comic, but I would like to see more stories with faster pacing. Some are written like graphic novels where the reader's continuing interest seems to be assumed. For example:
Page 1: Cover
Page 2: Establishing shot
Page 3: Someone I don't yet know or care about is talking or in bed
Page 4: Another character I don't know appears and says 2-5 lines of dialog
Page 5: They are clearly invested in this exposition but I am not
If this were a comic book, I would turn to the next page and the next and so on. Everyone here has ambitions of publishing a book, but to see a story unfold ten seconds at a time every other week is more than I can bear. A serial webcomic is a fundamentally different format than cinema or graphic novels. If there is an art style or premise that really intrigues me, I'll wait weeks or months and catch up on the last dozen pages at once. Comics that start with lots of exposition and world rules require more emotional investment and effort to get into.

Speaking of, the right premise will not necessarily make or break a comic. World building can be fun, but skillful dialog and characterization from page to page and chapter to chapter is every bit as important as the cyberpunk ghost high school dystopian future setting. Most of my advice comes from a serial comedy perspective, so take this with a grain of salt.

Last but not least, create a story that satisfies you as an author. What are your goals? Do you have a story to tell, or do you just want to make people laugh? Maybe you enjoy character drama or satire. As long as comics are a hobby and not a business, your enjoyment should come before making something that appeals to fans. Find a story that ignites your passion and the comics will follow.
User avatar
TheFunTrain
 
Posts: 209
Joined: April 1st, 2011, 11:59 pm

Re: What makes a good story?

Postby AuroraArt » April 1st, 2016, 8:30 pm

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, FunTrain. Pacing and a strong hook are very good. With pacing, some can be fast and some can be slow. As long as they're easy for the audience to follow, that's good. But yeah, I believe that the audience should care more for the characters and the story as well. Once you do the right pacing that's easy for the audience to understand the characters and story, your work is more enjoyable.

But yeah, I love a good comedy! It's one of my favorite genres. Once you have characters that are relatable and enjoyable, readers will automatically fall in love with them.
Image
User avatar
AuroraArt
 
Posts: 196
Joined: May 9th, 2011, 8:20 am

Re: What makes a story good?

Postby xofrats » April 4th, 2016, 5:20 am

I need believable character. I dislike it when the villains are evil just because the story needed it. If I has to like a character he/she need motives, weaknesses and strengths. It doesn't has to be much. It can be "the store owner want to sell stuff to make money because he wants to be rich. He's very charismatic but tend to spend his money on food."

I believe world building is important. The world creates characters, and characters create stories. I love the feeling when I read and book and just think "I want to go there!"

And a finale thing: "show don't tell" If I read a comic I don't want wall of texts pages.

Of course all of this is my personal opinion :)
User avatar
xofrats
 
Posts: 7
Joined: November 3rd, 2015, 12:40 pm

Re: What makes a story good?

Postby AuroraArt » April 13th, 2016, 4:29 pm

And that's a good way to make characters. I also believe that the audience need to relate to characters and their goals. An unlikable and unrelatable character makes a story bad. But if you make a character that audience believe in and can relate/root for, that makes for a good story.

And yes, I agree on the world building! For example: Star Wars. You want to go to those worlds and meet the people in them. Star Wars is filled with interesting characters, worlds, and adventures. It goes to show you: EVERYONE has a story to tell!

Exactly. There's no need for a lot of exposition. Show the audience what they're in for. If you tell them what's going on (especially if they already know) or what's going to happen, your reader's will be uninterested.

But yeah, sharing different opinions can be a learning experience. :) And I do apologize for taking long to reply. A lot has been going on. But I'm back!
Image
User avatar
AuroraArt
 
Posts: 196
Joined: May 9th, 2011, 8:20 am

Re: What makes a story good?

Postby Bobblit » April 17th, 2016, 11:28 am

I'm no expert in this or anything, but I'll chip in with a comment.

Yesterday, I re-found some old superhero comic books (from Marvel, to be precise) and was astonished by how weak the writing was in some of them. In most cases, it wasn't even the story (that wasn't the most exciting thing on earth, but it wasn't that boring, either) but the sequencing; it was difficult to tell what was happening in the gap between one panel and another. There was no real story flow, and it was not at all easy to read. I had never before noticed how badly the panel sequencing can ruin the story in a comic.

Also, giant walls of text. *Sigh* (It's strange, because I enjoy reading books, but when I'm reading a comic I want images, not text. I skipped most of it and still was able to follow the story sort of OK, so it wasn't even needed.) I think the good stories find a way to convey all that information through images, dialogue and events, instead of narration.
Image
User avatar
Bobblit
 
Posts: 21
Joined: April 4th, 2016, 6:22 am

Re: What makes a story good?

Postby AuroraArt » April 18th, 2016, 12:38 am

Ah yes, the panel sequencing. It's always important to know what's going on in the story. With comics, you have to make the panels easy to understand for the readers. This is actually a good example on pacing and transitions in comics: https://understandingcomics177.wordpres ... t/1-2/2-2/

And those darn walls of text... I hear ya. The thing with comics is that a creator should, "Show, don't tell!" The audience doesn't want to read a wall of text, but instead, enjoy the images and feel as if their in the story. It's good to explain things as well, but creators shouldn't overdo it. When doing a sequential art (without the speech bubbles), readers want to get a feel on what's going on. By showing them things like the characters, world, expressions, action, and gestures (and not giving so much text), readers will be more interested in reading that comic more.
Image
User avatar
AuroraArt
 
Posts: 196
Joined: May 9th, 2011, 8:20 am

Re: What makes a story good?

Postby Bobblit » April 19th, 2016, 5:36 am

Indeed. Although, to be honest, sometimes I fear that the "show, don't tell" rule is becoming so much of a mantra for all of us that we're closing ourselves to some possible interesting uses of "tell, don't show". That may be another element of a good story: subverting the reader's expectations?
Image
User avatar
Bobblit
 
Posts: 21
Joined: April 4th, 2016, 6:22 am

Re: What makes a story good? (How to write a good story)

Postby AuroraArt » April 19th, 2016, 3:50 pm

Bobblit wrote:Indeed. Although, to be honest, sometimes I fear that the "show, don't tell" rule is becoming so much of a mantra for all of us that we're closing ourselves to some possible interesting uses of "tell, don't show". That may be another element of a good story: subverting the reader's expectations?


Hmm... I've never thought of that. That's actually an interesting element. It's good to leave a little mystery for your readers. :)

BTW, I changed the title a bit. I wanted people to share on how to write a good story and how you can draw your readers in. People have different ways to write a story and it'd be interesting to learn from different creators.
Image
User avatar
AuroraArt
 
Posts: 196
Joined: May 9th, 2011, 8:20 am

Re: What makes a story good? (How to write a good story)

Postby Blahblah1984 » April 26th, 2016, 12:33 am

Hi AuroraArt,

I really like what Brian McDonald has to say about the root of story telling, his blog is here: http://invisibleinkblog.blogspot.ca/
Should have links to his books and interviews, along with a bunch of great blog posts.

Good luck writing your story!

Cheers,

Chad
User avatar
Blahblah1984
 
Posts: 44
Joined: November 3rd, 2011, 10:38 pm

Re: What makes a story good? (How to write a good story)

Postby AuroraArt » April 30th, 2016, 3:52 pm

Aww, wow! Thank you so much for sharing!

Yeah, someone told me that my character developing wasn't all that great for my first chapter. But then I thought, "It's good to listen to other people. But it's better to keep on trying amd continue on what you love."

When I first started out with Cryptic Yume, I was super passionate about it. Then the criticisms came. Since then, I was on hiatus to work on my story and future chapters as well. Showing pictures can be a bit easy for some creators. But telling the story and writing dialogue can be a bit challenging. But hey, it's a learning experience. We live and learn. :D
Image
User avatar
AuroraArt
 
Posts: 196
Joined: May 9th, 2011, 8:20 am

Re: What makes a story good? (How to write a good story)

Postby drvodicka » May 2nd, 2016, 5:49 pm

Interesting and believable characters are very important to writing a good story. The characters should drive the story forward. One exercise I like to do to help write characters is to write as many details about them (not related to the plot or their appearance) as I can. This helps to really nail down who they are as a character and think about how they would react in a given situation.
Image
User avatar
drvodicka
 
Posts: 11
Joined: August 31st, 2015, 9:45 am

Re: What makes a story good? (How to write a good story)

Postby AuroraArt » May 8th, 2016, 3:54 pm

Thank you, drvodicka. The thought of making believable and interesting characters is very important. Yes, the story can be important as well. But giving readers characters that they can relate to and find believable is very important.

I'm actually trying to do that with my characters. Sure, this is my first chapter, but I have so much to share with the readers about the characters. On my second chapter, I want people to feel more connected with my characters.
I kind of feel that I failed to do that in the first chapter. However, I wanted to make it up in the second chapter. My whole intention was to do that. Plus, I have everything planned for future series.

Sorry if I sounded like I was ranting. I'm just trying my best to make a good story with interesting characters; that readers can relate to.
Image
User avatar
AuroraArt
 
Posts: 196
Joined: May 9th, 2011, 8:20 am

Re: What makes a story good?

Postby cloverthegreat » May 11th, 2016, 12:59 am

AuroraArt wrote:Ah yes, the panel sequencing. It's always important to know what's going on in the story. With comics, you have to make the panels easy to understand for the readers. This is actually a good example on pacing and transitions in comics: https://understandingcomics177.wordpres ... t/1-2/2-2/

And those darn walls of text... I hear ya. The thing with comics is that a creator should, "Show, don't tell!" The audience doesn't want to read a wall of text, but instead, enjoy the images and feel as if their in the story. It's good to explain things as well, but creators shouldn't overdo it. When doing a sequential art (without the speech bubbles), readers want to get a feel on what's going on. By showing them things like the characters, world, expressions, action, and gestures (and not giving so much text), readers will be more interested in reading that comic more.


The first iteration of my comic ended up with me trying for "Show, don't tell!" and I ended up accomplishing neither of those things. Sometimes there needs to be a small exposition dump at the beginning or people won't know what the hell you're trying to do and won't stay.

I have very little experience with writing fiction, so I basically ended up just putting a chopped up thesis statement for the first arc of the comic on the first page and had the setting on the cover. I really should take a creative writing class...
Image
User avatar
cloverthegreat
 
Posts: 820
Joined: May 17th, 2011, 3:46 pm

Re: What makes a story good? (How to write a good story)

Postby Ian Evans » May 26th, 2016, 4:42 pm

When I look at storytelling, purely storytelling, i see two paths diverging. For lack of much better terms those paths are literature and plot. A plot based story had compelling plot points and twists, and an archetypical rise and fall until the climax. A"literature" story (again for lack of a better term someone throw me a bone) is less focused on the plot and more focused on themes and symbols. Both require equal attention to characterization, however it is pretty common to have unlikable characters in literature. It is perfectly normal to have an unlikable or unrelatable character in your stories. Not everyone likes or relates to you either. That doesn't make your characterization bad. Anyway, story telling is like taking those elements, no matter how good or bad they are and presenting them in a way that conveys what you want the readers to think or feel. For example, if the important plot twist in the story is... I don't know, let's say it's that your character's benefactor was not a decrpit old woman he thought it was all along, turns out to be the criminal he saved when he was a kid, you don't want to casually mention that to the audience like it was no big deal. Or let's say the protagonist is a child therapist and his client can see dead people, and the twist s that the protagonist is already dead, that's something you save till the end of the movie to find out. If you were to point that out to your audience in the beginning, it wouldn't be a big deal to them. If you can present a story that is logical, attractive to the audience, and in a comics case, aesthetically pleasing, you are winning. Write a story about mom's spaghetti, and if it has logical sequence, and is told in a way i find compelling or attractive, i'll like it. This is purely storytelling. Presenting your story in a logical sequence that is told in an attractive way. The punchline doesn't go in the beginning of a joke. For me, once i have my themes and characters and a couple of plot points, the story is already there, and then the task is "how do i present this in a way that will captivate my audience."
User avatar
Ian Evans
 
Posts: 25
Joined: December 25th, 2015, 8:12 pm

Next

Return to Art Tutorials & Techniques

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests