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EternalFlame's avatar

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I've been doing my webcomic Eternal Flame since 1999, off and on.

I've restarted it five times now.

Whenever I go back through my archives, there's always something I just seriously HATE.

Sometimes it's my art, usually it's the writing, and all too frequently it's both.

Writing was never my strong suit for my comic, because I used to draw stuff to make my friends laugh, so trying to keep a storyline going is hard to do. I'll draw five pages of story, then goof off for like ten pages just doing silly stuff.

One way of combatting this, that I've found, is to basically do little.. Almost snapshots of the story your wanting to tell. Instead of trying to force out a full page (metaphorically speaking) just taking one paragraph of that, and working on that.

What are some of the tricks you've learned to keep yourself motivated and going on with things? What are some lessons you've been taught or learned over the course of making your art and stories?
Kupocake's avatar

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Here's the big thing: to stick with a story, you have to really really love your story. You want to tell this story to the world as well as you can. When you have that passion in mind, it's easy to continue working on the comic.

I also find that finishing the story front to back, including script, helps. When you work out all the problems of the story first, you can focus on the art afterward. As an artist, you will always improve and your work (especially from 13 years ago) will always be worse than how you're working now, but a good solid story will power it through.. The old adage: pain is temporary, story is forever.
EternalFlame's avatar

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Kupocake
Here's the big thing: to stick with a story, you have to really really love your story.


I do, otherwise i'd have given up long ago. The point is, I know I'm not the best and it's frustrating that I can't get the story in my head to come out properly on paper.
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EternalFlame
Kupocake
Here's the big thing: to stick with a story, you have to really really love your story.


I do, otherwise i'd have given up long ago. The point is, I know I'm not the best and it's frustrating that I can't get the story in my head to come out properly on paper.
It might do you some good to read up story-crafting books or attend writing seminars. I personally recommend Story by Robert McKee, despite it being a movie-based book, it's extremely informative on the basic mechanics of storytelling. And then the writer Ray Bradbury recommends to write a short story every week to improve your writing skills.

Learning to write good stories is no different than learning to draw well. You need to practice and be instructed to some degree.
EternalFlame's avatar

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Kupocake
Learning to write good stories is no different than learning to draw well. You need to practice and be instructed to some degree.


That's the thing though. I CAN write good stuff. I write short stories whenever I can, and they normally get praised like crazy. It's just this story.

For whatever reason, anything else just pours out of me, this is like pulling teeth.
Kupocake's avatar

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EternalFlame
Kupocake
Learning to write good stories is no different than learning to draw well. You need to practice and be instructed to some degree.


That's the thing though. I CAN write good stuff. I write short stories whenever I can, and they normally get praised like crazy. It's just this story.

For whatever reason, anything else just pours out of me, this is like pulling teeth.
Perhaps this is a sign to take a step back from your story. I had a story that went through numerous revisions because of its many plot holes, but I adamantly tried to stick to it. Finally, it came to a point where I realized it was not working, so I decided to just shelve it. And then I banged out Cans of Beans in 4 months.

I still think about my old story here and there, and I feel like I'm finally going somewhere with it, but it took a completely different story for me to realize what was wrong with the last one, and reflect on it.
EternalFlame's avatar

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Kupocake
Perhaps this is a sign to take a step back from your story.


No.. I've tried that before and it doesn't help. I think this is more of a case of.. Having to bang your head against a wall until you break through it, you know?
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EternalFlame
Kupocake
Perhaps this is a sign to take a step back from your story.


No.. I've tried that before and it doesn't help. I think this is more of a case of.. Having to bang your head against a wall until you break through it, you know?
Forcing a story out only makes forced-sounding stories. Nobody can tell you how to make a story work, but this is what I know and what works for me. Giving up on my horrible hashed-out story was the greatest thing I could ever have done for myself as a writer, as I was able to reflect on why it didn't work and made sure that my next one didn't have the same pitfalls.

No, this is a case of killing your own baby. It's a necessity, sometimes.
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Sometimes it's best to shelve it and work on something new. Or even indefinitely shelve it.

Having fun, I think, is important too.

I have awesome stories, stories I LOVE. But working on them isn't really...fun past the pre-planning stages. But when I have fun with it, I can beat out pages for it like no tomorrow.
EternalFlame's avatar

Dangerous Member

I was asking for tricks and suggestions to keep motivated, not a plethora of suggestions on giving up..
But if you've been working on it since '99, maybe its time to walk away at least until you can figure the story out. If you cannot write the story down with a clear progression from beginning middle to end, maybe it's because that idea you love so dearly is impossible without the kind of heavy editing that completely changes the nature of the story you thought you were going to tell, or it was always just terrible and you're getting acquainted with the sunk cost fallacy.

Don't ignore yourself. If working on it is a chore, if you can't seem to get anything out for this project but you have no trouble with others? That doesn't sound like you need motivation. That sounds like you've built this project so highly in your head that it's become a "dream project" and you are too afraid to work on it for fear that it won't match reality. No dream project ever measures up that high, how could it? Or it sounds like you know you are playing with a wounded animal and it's time to put it down. Either way, you need some space. IF it's truly a project you can fashion into something coherent, you can always come back to it. Pushing it aside does not have to be forever.
EternalFlame's avatar

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its a non linear story. imagine trying to write lord of the rings while focusing on EVERYONE. its kinda like that. i mean, im not a huge fan of lotr, but the books took years to write.

and the reason why its taking me so long is because i keep going back and changing everything so that its better. sometimes the jokes i made werent very funny, or i didnt write enough for something to make sense to the reader, etc.

every time i rewrite it, i get about a hundred pages in, and then start picking it apart because i know i can do better.

are there any tips or tricks to help me keep going instead of stopping cold?
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We're not trying to discourage you from writing, but if you're going nowhere with something you've been working on for over 12 years, that's a serious sign that something isn't working.

If you're so inclined to keep working on this, as I stated before, get back to the basics. There is no shame in re-reading and re-learning the basic mechanics of story writing. Some of the greatest artists I know spend a few weeks every year doing that, and it's no different with writing. Get in contact with other writers and dish out your whole story to them, and see if they can pick apart what is/isn't working. You might need fresh eyes to look at this.
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There aren't any 'tricks' to forging on ahead, just the knowledge that you learned, made mistakes, and it's time to move on.
EternalFlame's avatar

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Seijaku_Ishida
There aren't any 'tricks' to forging on ahead, just the knowledge that you learned, made mistakes, and it's time to move on.


Okay, I already provided an example of one, but I'll just rehash it briefly;

I was having problems writing the HUGE EPIC overstory, so instead I switched my writing style to something easier to envision.

Instead of trying to write the story of how ten people live, and interact and their place in a larger story/world.

Instead of just focusing on one characters full story.

I chose to do small bits of one characters story.

Instead of trying to focus on the forest, or even a tree, i aimed for some leaves.

stuff like that would be helpful.

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