forum Every single detail I have for my story all in one blob (help desperately needed)
Started by @The-N-U-T-Cracker
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@The-N-U-T-Cracker

so it's taken me like two years but I'm starting to finally get some sort of idea for what I'm wanting my comic to be about, and since I'm not a writer at all, I need some advice from people who… actually know things

there is very little organization to this, I just wrote down details the way I would say them in a conversation, so sorry if that's confusing as hell
feel free to absolutely roast the carp out of anything you need to, as long as it's helpful I won't be offended lol. i'm just sick of trying to work by myself with no experiences and hardly any outside perspectives
and again, this is literally everything I have in one blob, so yeah, a lot of it will be pointless, unnecessary detail at this stage. I apologize for the length.

the aesthetic i'm hoping for is somewhat dark and creepy, but in like, a beautiful way. kinda fantasy, not quite high fantasy but glowing mushrooms and floating islands type thing, what I want the most is for it to feel like a lucid dream.

so, the characters I have currently (including tiny side characters without names) are

Aquila: Protagonist, Female, 18, 4'9", ESFP-T. She's quite optimistic, empathetic, and outgoing, but also a total airhead at times, and doesn't seem to recognize it. Has no sense of stranger danger, acts spontaneously, a bit cocky, and yet quite emotionally sensitive. Enjoys mainly music, dance, travel, cracking jokes (some more appropriate than others), and swimming, likely sees herself as "quirky", would be the friend that teases/bullies you constantly, but in like a loving way, dumbass. <3
Cliche as it is, she wants nothing more than to get out of the house, as she's only ever lived a sheltered, comfortable life in her small, isolated mountain town. She doesn't know where she'd go or what to do, she just wants to see what it's like past the cliffs, meet new people, try new foods, all the good stuff. The details behind it, what exactly she wants to do once she's out of the place? I'm… still working on that, I just know she's a very adventure-driven character.
Oh, and she is on the autism spectrum, I don't know if that'll ever be mentioned in story or if it'll just be some background trivia but it is a detail I thought I'd write down
(image)

Lyra: Main character, Female, passed on at age 31, height undeterminable, ISFJ-T. She's kind of like the mother figure especially for the protag, but also the character the story mainly revolves around. She's very overprotective, willing to put her life on the line for those she cares about, but will not hesitate to break someone's bones if she sees necessary. She's quite weak in her current ghost state, and mainly just wants to figure out what's going on so she can get back to heaven
I won't explain more of her backstory as it's already written further down but basically, she's stuck as a spirit with no knowledge of why she's here
she's carrying some pretty… old-timey views with her though, so I wouldn't be surprised if she's a massive homophobe and at some point tries to shelter Aquila from her own gay friends.
(image)

Mica: Main character, Female, 21, 5'3", INTP-T. Very quiet and seemingly collected, she's my Super IntrovertTM, despite being raised in such a tight-knit, social community.
She's kind of been stuck in this one small forest hideout since she was born, and due to the nature of the place, everyone knew and helped each other out, like a family of sorts, which made it a little easier on her single father. No one knows what happened to her mother, but she doesn't care, she wasn't born at the time so she doesn't see it as a negative thing, just a detail of her backstory-
She suffers from mild psychosis, mostly in a delusional sense as opposed to a "has murderous tendencies" kind of thing, but that tends to make her a little more difficult to talk to, as her paranoia can prevent her from speaking to anyone who doesn't already seem trustworthy.
While that may turn people away from her initially, she's quite a loyal friend if you can get on her good side. She's smart, witty, creative, sarcastic, would probably be going through an emo phase, and gosh her list of hobbies she's picked up and dropped over time could be used to strangle a person.
(image)
(friend's drawing: https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/712429067047272451/841380178353586226/Mica_chibi_by_gray.jpg)

Fallon: Main character, Male, 24, 6'3", ISTJ-T. My tol healer boi, he's somewhere between a cinnamon roll and an asshat, depends who he's talking to. He's extremely overprotective when it comes to his family, and honestly, the only reason he's in the group is to keep his sister safe-
As mentioned, he has healing magic, which not only allows him to heal others but his body is constantly healing himself, so while he can still feel pain from the wounds he's healed (even the ones from other people), it's extremely difficult for him to die, physical wounds just vanish, you try to cut off a limb and it reattaches as you go. The only things that can get to him are things such as starvation/dehydration, lack of oxygen, and some types of poison can mess with his systems, preventing the healing reaction, but otherwise he's practically immortal, not even age can take his life.
And while a lot of healers see this as a plus, this causes him a lot of pain as he knows he will outlive all his loved ones, so he does everything he can to keep them around as long as possible, even if that means he has to suffer. He bottles up his emotions, only acting like his authentic, soft, and fun-loving self around his loved ones, treating nearly everyone else with hatred and distrust. He endures a lot of physical pain due to the wounds he heals and absorbs, his emotional bottling has led to anger issues, and his entire situation has put him in quite the depression, wishing he didn't exist but not being able to do shit about it.
When he first meets the group (which i'm not fully sure how that'll happen yet), he's extremely skeptical, but his sister, Chiara, is ready to drop everything and go
Because he doesn't want her to get hurt, he tries his best to keep her from joining the adventure, but he's unsuccessful, so in a last resort decision he goes along, bringing with him nothing but a gun, one of his little brother's drawings, and an intense grudge towards both Lyra and Aquila for putting them in this mess.
While he and Lyra are eventually able to find something to relate to, due to them both being overprotective older siblings who had to/will likely have to watch their loved ones die, he still can't manage to get over his distrust, likely won't for quite a while.
And with Aquila, they pick on each other constantly. Sometimes it's just playful, sometimes it's competitive, oftentimes it gets taken too far, but it never seems to end.
As for other details, he currently works in pyrotechnics, mainly creating and setting up fireworks/firework shows for different events around the city, as well as assisting in weapon-making. It's pretty high-paying as it's usually considered too dangerous for the average person, but he doesn't get a lot of jobs, as even though his city is known for its festivals and celebrations, it's very isolated, with not too high of a population.
(image)

Chiara: Main character, Female, 20, 5'7", ESTP-A. My only confident one of the bunch, who somehow manages to use it for hyping up others and also getting everyone in deep trouble at the same time. she's bold, dramatic, flirtatious, risk-prone, and often brutally honest, probably a "never looks both ways before crossing the street" kind of person. She's a natural leader, but a terrible one, as she's always jumping into situations before even realizing what they are. has no patience for stupid people, is easily bored, tends to complain a lot, but also very emotionally intelligent, she knows when something's up and how to help.
She's Fallon's younger sister, so they've grown up in the same environment, and are extremely close despite their very differing personalities. She'd give up her life for him in a heartbeat, and he desperately wishes she'd stop saying that because it scares him a lot-
Not sure what her profession is quite yet, I feel like she'd also be involved in the local festivals, possibly a dancer or performer of sorts, but maybe not, as I can also totally see her just watching along with her friends, probably drinking more than she should and flirting with the waitress. who knows lol
(image)

Liam: Fallon/Chiara's baby brother, 12, 4'5". Quite the ball of energy, despite being an 'older' kid. He's often found rolling around in the grass, building castles from the lake sand, drawing endless pictures with his crayon sets, watching the fireworks, dancing… and is also cartoonishly strong. Don't know if he has superpowers or just happens to be this way but he breaks a lot of crayons, casually lifts people to see past them, and needs to be supervised when hugging someone.

Vega: Lyra's baby sister, 11-15 through most of her screen time, passed away over a century ago at the age of 63. She's a very calm but playful bean, who mainly likes to read, cook, and jump in puddles. She adores animals, whether that's mice, octopi, bears, bugs, even (and especially) creatures most people wouldn't typically consider cute. Has down's syndrome, which can affect the way she learns, speaks, and makes friends- the latter of which tends to be especially difficult for her, but more due to her shyness, lack of social opportunities caused to everything else going on around her, and her family also being very isolated, as opposed to just "condition make social life go poof". but she appreciates the friends she does make more than anything, practically being the "silent therapist" of her group. As she gets older her personality mostly stays the same, she becomes a lot more mature over the years but stays just as determined and optimistic as always, cause even after struggling with depression for a few years following the passing of her sister, her memory of their times together motivate her to live the best life she can, for Lyra's sake. She starts working odd kitchen jobs, her shyness begins to fade away as she joins a local chef's club, where she's adored for her sheer amount of passion for the art of cooking. She makes a small but close group of friends who she hangs out with frequently, and apart from food, she grows quite the fascination with poetry and ancient history. Later in life, she ends up getting married to a man about two years older than her with the same condition, and they spend their time together fostering nearby shelter animals, going on trips, and raising their one child, a neurotypical baby boy who isn't yet named I don't even have names for my reoccurring characters, you think I have time for that

(I'll be honest, most of her later life isn't that important to the story, I just mainly like to clarify what happened as a massive "F you" to the Karen who told me most neurodivergent people shouldn't be allowed to get married. is that a bad reason? maybe, but honestly, I feel like showing what happened to her and how happy she was with her life, relationships, and career will maybe help portray her as a person with importance, instead of just a throwaway "representation" character seemingly forced in to make Lyra's backstory more tragic. what do y'all think?)

Nikora: Deity, Ageless, Non-binary. I know practically nothing about them, pretty sure they were a real person (maybe a warrior from Lyra's time) that gained extensive honor, to the point of eventually being worshipped as the savior of Mica's people (haven't named their location or nationality yet). I associate them a lot with my one creature design, pretty sure they're 8 feet tall and are depicted with antlers, specifically in the process of shedding velvet, so they look all bloody and falling apart when it's really just natural for them.

Friend 1: The first of Fallon's friend group, he's a tall, muscular dude with a very chill, soft, and caring personality, but that doesn't stop him from being a fun-loving idiot at times. He's asexual, not aromantic, and he's kind of like the voice of reason meanwhile his friends are blowing stuff up for entertainment purposes. it's pretty great

Friend 2: Second of the friend trio, he's very much a Flamboyant StraightTM, and anything but a rational thinker. He's pretty flirtatious, a little cocky, weirdly book-smart, and also, while it'll probably never be shown since this is supposed to be a comic, I like to imagine he has a comedically deep voice which makes me love him even more? Their trio in general is very "just dudes bein bros"-esque and they kinda like to do stupid shit for the hell of it, but together as a team. are they necessary to the story? no, but they're necessary to my soul

GrandmaTM: Fallon/Chiara/Liam's 80-something-year-old grandma, pretty self-explanatory. she's sweet, elderly, enjoys knitting, super condescending, picks favorites out of the grandchildren (hint, it's not Fallon), always brutally honest, makes embarrassing jokes about you, curses like a sailor, was bisexual Before it was CoolTM, and will call you out if you do something stupid, making sure you never forget it. not an important or necessary character by any means but I like her too much to not include

then there are my locations at the moment (excluding one scrapped city concept, felt too futuristic for the world in question. only mentioning it cause I told a few of y'all about it once)

There's Fioria, a small village highly based on the abandoned town of Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy. It's placed on top of a large hill, the ground flattened out, and there's a stream flowing across it, making a waterfall off the cliff edges. The houses and paths are mostly made of stone, the hues varying slightly, but it's mostly dull, kept alive by the bright flowers, overrun vines, and colorful streetlights.
almost forgot to mention but this is the isolated town Aquila grew up in
(not designed yet so aesthetic image: https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/817626067631996958/823399236129259580/civita-di-bagnoregio.png)

Then I have a larger unnamed city, it's built on top of a lake, surrounded by mountains. The architecture and functionality are mainly based on Wuzhen, China, most of the buildings are directly on top of the water, with a few sprinkled on the shore and nearby mountains. There are paths in between each area, it's not all boats like the reference city, but you can still see all the gaps and watch the fish swim under you.
The city is mainly known for its art, festivals, shopping centers, music, theaters, and other entertainment, so it's a popular destination for travelers
Due to their culture, alcohol, festival dances, and magic (particularly involving fire) are all stereotypically associated with the city, but outside of the festivals, it's more of a shopping and fishing area, with pretty scenery but expensive housing.
(aesthetic image: https://vtwp-media.s3-accelerate.amazonaws.com/2019/08/Traveling_To_Wuzhen_a_Beautiful_Water_Town_In_China2.jpg)

On the outskirts of that city, among the scattered mountain cottages, there lies one home in particular, hidden in the trees.
It's two-story, no basement, just large enough for a 5-person family. it has a split pathway made of loose, mossy stones that'll take you to either the city or a hiking trail up the mountain, leading to a small cliffside camping ground with a stunning view of the land below. I've kinda intended this to be the home for Chiara, Fallon, Liam, and their parents to reside in but maybe I'll want them somewhere else? I dunno I've put a lot of thought into this place I kinda wanna keep it just how it is
(will design soon)

Finally, I have an itty bitty village hidden deep in the forests, home to the native peoples of the area. It's not too far from the lake city but far enough that you wouldn't wanna walk there. Most of their shelter consists of little wooden huts, but they were able to afford some concrete and stone shelters in case of emergency as well as a statue of Nikora, mainly using the money sourced from trading that bioluminescent sap I mention a little bit down from here. Apart from the sap trades though, they're completely isolated, socializing amongst each other and relying on their neighbors for help. That tight-knit social structure keeps the place relatively safe, people feel like they can trust one another and the crime rate is low, but it's sometimes believed that this means outsiders are not to be trusted, plus I believe there might be some slightly cultish stuff going on behind the scenes. still working it out tho
mica's kind of been caught up in those conspiracies to an extent, so she's not always willing to trust or talk to people outside her group, but I kinda already mentioned that about her
there's a nearby area, a little shallow pond surrounded by aspen trees, where she likes to hang out, away from other people, just her and her thoughts.
(no images for this one, sorry)

I also have a creature design,

they're like weirdly tall deer doggos, with their green, mossy fur and brown, wood-like legs allowing them to easily camouflage. while they may look docile, they're harsh predators, eating mainly fish and small animals, but will attack larger prey if needed. What they lack in terms of claws is made up for with their teeth, resembling those of an anglerfish, and due to their height, it's nearly impossible to outrun them. The best thing to do if you encounter one is to stay quiet or hidden, and play dead if approached.
Usually only found deep in forests, as they aren't fond of civilization, and near bodies of water.

a tree design,

commonly found around Mica's home forest, their sap is quite a valuable delicacy, and used for many "high-end" desserts. most of the details about this are in the image so I won't repeat myself too much
it's what I'd mentioned in her village's description with all the sap trading and such.

and i'm planning on creating a language, but that's a looong ways away lol

now that I have all that, uhh
basically,
Lyra's grown up in a pretty… troubled era. We're in the middle of some silent, hidden war against who-knows-what (still figuring out the details), and her family's right in the middle of it.
She spends a lot of her time caring for and looking after her little sister while her parents are busy, playing with her, feeding her, stitching her clothes back together, treating her cuts and scrapes…
but after a few years, she's forced to fight along, as they can't afford not to. The amount of people fighting is slim, as it's extremely dangerous and the majority of people are either unwilling to go or don't even know anything's happening in the first place (thinking maybe it's either been covered up by a corrupt government or since it's in such a poor area, most people don't notice or give a shark, as they don't feel it'll affect them). She finds herself stressed out of her mind, trying her best to keep going but wanting nothing more than to go back and help her sister, until eventually she and a group of other poor soldiers team up to not only spread the word of this silent killer but to take it down in its tracks.
They succeed in their mission, but unfortunately, Lyra doesn't survive the final encounter. She passes on at age 31, never to see her sister again.
from what I've seen though, the common lore is that if you're in an extreme state of distress or have something troubling you at the time of your death, you don't immediately pass on until whatever's caused you these issues is resolved fully. and so as she lies there, succumbing to her injuries, unknown if her sister will be okay or if this takedown will even work at all, she finds herself unable to get to the afterlife and instead is brought back as a ghost. She misses the actual takedown, tries to find her allies only to discover some of the others didn't make it either, but they passed on. She then goes home and has to watch as her family is informed of her passing.
From here she watches Vega's life play out, which I won't describe again cause it's already in her character blob.
But eventually, after her sister passes. her troubles are over, and she's ready to move on to the afterlife. finally able to see her family again, she's able to rest at last, knowing her job is complete and her loved ones are safe-

…until a couple hundred years later, when Lyra awakes once again as a ghost.
the thing she fought against nearly her whole life is back, she can't return to her paradise until it's over, and she seems to be the only soldier who was brought back. but she's still a ghost, she has no friends, no magic, not even a physical appearance, and since it's been a good chunk of time, she doesn't even remember how to be a ghost in the first place, much less how to fight-
she's practically just a spectator, she can't get back by herself, so in a panic, she tries to make contact with people, finding her original hometown no longer exists and heading to the next best place- The nearby village of Fioria.
She tries a variety of ways to get people's attention, hitting bells, flickering lights, even writing messages, but no one seems to question.
When drawing attention in large areas doesn't work, she starts haunting various homes, briefly leaving messages here and there, and after appearing in one place, she finds someone who's naive, careless, and desperate enough to go on this sudden, life-threatening adventure alone with a strange ghost: our MC, Aquila. and… that's kinda all I got…?
how it ends? how the rest of the characters meet? everything in between?
it's a total mystery. no idea what's going on there-

hell, i'm not even sure if I like what I have currently. I think if I try enough I can figure out how to fill in the details and will be a lot happier with what I create, but until then i'm confused and I need people to help me out. i'm not a storyteller and even with the "cliches are okay" mindset I can't come up with anything

the big hole i'm currently trying to fill currently (and the thing I need the most help with) is what that obstacle they're up against actually… is. The only thing I know is I don't want it to be some evil guy behind everything, that feels way too cheesy for this type of story.

I do kinda like the idea of the world itself being an antagonist, but i'm not fully sure how that would work..? I'd guess maybe things could just gradually corrupt, plants start to die off, nature becomes more hostile, disease starts to spread, things of that sort. but then again, how would you even fight that? what would cause it? why is it suddenly coming back?
or maybe it could be just some black goo or something summoning hideous monsters, which would be easier to fight I guess, but also pretty generic and underwhelming, and isn't any easier to explain
my brian is completely fried. the idea fountain is dead.
I thought about tying it in to my fictional religions, which could explain the why, maybe everything going to shit is all caused by some terrifying murder cults who just couldn't go three days without sacrificing kidnapped babies to this world's equivalent of Big Tibby Satan. but then again, why would these cults exist? why are they just now coming back? and again, how would you even fight that? so I don't know what to think about that idea
Then my friend recommended I tie it into the magic system, which might work great except I have no idea how the magic system even works, if someone can give me resources on how to create one I will love you forever cause I don't have a clue what making a magic system even means
Another friend told me I could maybe consider the moon being somehow behind this, maybe it's alive in some way, but that's vague as well.

I'm not looking to explain everything in full detail, in fact, I really like the idea of keeping things a little Spirited Away-esque, where stuff happens and it's not perfectly explained cause it doesn't need to be, that way it fits the dream aesthetic and won't get overwhelmed with dialogue

so like… does anyone have any ideas? at all? i'm desperate here, spent so much freaking time on this and still have next to nothing. you guys are writers what do I do

thank you so freaking much <3

@GoodThingGoing group

Ella, I am seriously super impressed by all of this!! I love the idea of the world corrupting as well!
I'll (hopefully) write more feedback when I have time/energy

@The-N-U-T-Cracker

aaaaa thank you so much!!! that means a lot, oh my goodness- <3
I'm finally starting to get to a place where I'm no longer embarrassed to talk about writing so that's been kind of huge for me lol
And I'll think more on the world corrupting idea, maybe i can find an explanation for it that isn't simply "the prophecy says so"

Deleted user

In any story I think of three main elements: Plot, Worldbuilding, and Character(s). Other things like pacing, style, genre, etcetera can be examined as a combination of three elements even though they ought to be developed as their own skills.

Characters

I gather that you're most interested in Characters, which is why there are so many of them and described in so much detail in terms of personality, and why you find it easy to grow a character and drop them in there due to some random person's bad take. I'm sure there are many successful works that get carried through to completion because the creator thought up of a character, or even thought up whole mountain ranges' masses of characters, and that's the source of the momentum, that the story becomes character-driven in the sense of being more a showcase of personalities and exploration of relationship dynamics.

In and of themselves, though, firstly, I think for example Aquila's character design is a bit too busy? Lyra's, Mica's and Fallon's for example are fine. Rule of thumb is you should know the character from their silhouette alone, and stick with maybe two costume colors. When these guidelines are broken, it better be with consideration for why these guidelines were there in the first place: It's generally because, if you don't have an entire team helping you to make your comic happen, then it'll be twelve years from now that you're crying over having to color in another dozen sunflowers in Chiara's hair for the fifth panel in a row…unless you really meant that illustration to be for the art book, or artistic formal portraits, and/or you have every angle drawn of that flower crown in a hoard of your own images to simply copy-paste along with everybody's expressions. See Lars Martinson talk in a YouTube about having spent 13 years drawing a graphic novel here. That includes time-saving tips.

Next, maybe this is more bias that I have because in my own process I don't find that it's characters that inspire me to carry a story through to the end…but, characterization is a small part of the story. What I find gets my stories from concept to completion is Plot.

Plot

But, to hear a work described as "plot-driven" tends to be so much less of a compliment than "character-driven" stories. So, I don't mean that the change in focus means that any consistent personality in your main character should be sacrificed on the altar of what the storyteller has decided must occur next. Instead, I mean that I feel Plot and Characterization are interrelated in how they develop, and so they can both be fully developed…but that it's the Plot that serves as the central structure.

As you've mentioned Spirited Away, I want to point out that, while a beautiful and commercially successful work that I would totally re-watch randomly, it's pretty mild all around. Characterization-wise, Chihiro doesn't get these tragic Shakespearean soliloquys, and doesn't have her entire world turned upside-down by remembering the name of the river in which she almost drowned. It's more like, "oh I guess this is happening now" or "oh so that explains it." Any character development is pretty subtle. As for the plot, it's more an exploration of strange things happening: even the Evil Overlord figure feuding with an allegedly Eviller Evil Over-Above-and-Beyondlord doesn't become this civil-war-combined-with-invasion. It's more like…two old ladies playing pranks on each other, and if Haku got caught in the crossfire then he just stays in bed for a couple of days and then walks it off.

Your plot doesn't have to be mild, but I'm saying that it doesn't have to be the high-stakes plaited plots of Fullmetal Alchemist or A Song of Ice and Fire either that has cosmic horror on one level and political intrigue in the other level, with flashbacks to thousands and thousands of years ago.

It can still be a good story even if it's simple, but more importantly you're more likely to get something done if the plot is simple. So the plot can also be:

  • simple exploration of the environment: maybe Aquila gets sent away to a boarding school or apprenticeship, or visits a relative past the mountains, and in traveling alone then gets to encounter new people and try food they don't make on the home side of the mountains, and then returns home
  • one question that gets answered, for example: Why is Lyra a ghost? That can be answered in exposition which won't exactly be a story even though it will be an answer…or it can be answered by Aquila trying to find out why Lyra is a ghost. By the time that answer is answered, there could be some emotional questions that need to be resolved or something needs to happen before the story can be considered complete
  • a character arc: This doesn't need to be everything that has ever happened to a character in their life, not like one character wrestles with career choices and a romantic subplot and then some issues with their friends too and it's all bundled up in one zany time; the plot can instead be one main way for a character to grow **
  • an outside event, which can be as mundane as the arrival of a traveling circus or theater troupe, or as unusual as a planet on a collision course with the planet that the main character lives in and nobody can do anything about it

** Basically, a character-integrating plot is what happens when two subatomic elements of storytelling come together: first, the character develops a motivation, from within their personality, their have a desire for something; and second, story is the description of what gets in the way. So, if Aquila wants to explore the world, then something can get in the way: getting locked in a tower, disapproving parents or guardians, fear of actually being out there, etcetera…and the story will be about overcoming those obstacles, and once those obstacles are overcome, then that's the end of that plot thread and you can say that you have completed the story. However, if Aquila wants to understand the world, then something else can get in the way: Aquila's optimism, or a literal misdirection, or the location or thing turns out to have moved. The story progresses in a way that those obstacles get overcome: Aquila gets pickpocketed by somebody on the road and because of that grows less optimistic; the misdirection is adjusted for or removed; the journey continues until Aquila reaches the correct destination.

The plot could even be "Big Bad Ruins Everything For Everyone Until Main Character Tells the Big Bad to Stop It", because there's so many different ways to change up the Evil McEvilface trope. See how the elderly ladies in Spirited Away have a soft spot for infants and customers, or pull their punches when they can change humans into not humans and probably even kill people with their mind.

Antagonists can have their own reasons for doing what they do, such that it's no longer Hero versus Antagonist but Hero versus Another Hero. It doesn't have to be the Evil Emperor of the Evil Empire, either, the antagonist can be a mercurial and slanderously conspiratorial "friend", or an unsportmanlike competitor, or an overly zealous temple novitiate, a flawed mentor…simply immature people whom the story grants the life experience to grow in maturity.

But let's say that it's exploration of the magic system, because that can segue into…

Worldbuilding

Having a magic system means that the main character's ability to solve the plot conflicts by using magic is appropriate to the reader's understanding of magic.

The consistency of the magical rules, which the reader is supposed to understand, is what the magic system is called.

That said, there's something called a "soft magic system" and there's something called a "hard magic system" and I think there's a squishie magic system somewhere in between.

The soft magic system is what many fairy tales and surrealist works use. In Spirited Away you find that if you wander beyond the tunnel and eat something there, then you'll turn into a pig, or you'll be saved from transparency. It's inconsistent, it's never explained what it means or where everything fits…but it works really well. The symbolism is emotionally true.

The hard magic system would be more like Kiki's Delivery Service, in which her only real power is flight (and understanding cat miaows), and then she loses her power(s) and must figure out why that happened: her spirits are down, she got really upset at a delivery she ran in the rain in which the receiver was really rude, or she's been using her flight too much for regular mundane things and then drained the creative spirit from it.

You get to decide whether your magic system is going to be surreal or scientific, or something in between.

Aside from the magic system, worldbuilding also includes the society…And, in a world in which people can have naturally pink hair or similar architectural aesthetics from Ancient China, why would gender or orientation norms exist? Why take the architecture, and leave out the established precedent of "sleeve-cutters"?

I'm by no means passive-aggressively saying, "So don't have a homophobic ghost in your story, because it doesn't make sense to have homophobia in this fantasy setting"; some of my fantasy settings have some cultures that have rigid ideas about gender and orientation too. Fantasy settings can have social issues if they're either going to add dimension to some of the themes, or if that's another conflict that will directly become part of the plot of the story, or both, or even just because that's something the creators default to (we can't help writing what we know). I had only hoped that it would help to suggest that if you're going to be conscientious with your characters, then to be conscientious in a way that gels the plot and worldbuilding together with characterization into something that makes sense too, perhaps that feels organic and lived-in.

I hope this helps!

Deleted user

A YouTube video about Plot: here (spoilers for Les Miserables, The Wizard of Oz, and the Count of Monte Cristo, but at least there's also an original example to demonstrate the concepts of a plot pitfall).

A non-video Plot Outline Template: here although I also adjusted a plot outline "beat sheet" for horror, here.

@but-not-for-me group

Just a suggestion: use the MBTIs as more of a loose outline for the character. Sometimes I find that when I try to write them as a specific "personality type" they become blank as I try to force them into that category instead of just letting them develop.

@The-N-U-T-Cracker

Thank you so much!!!!

In and of themselves, though, firstly, I think for example Aquila's character design is a bit too busy? Lyra's, Mica's and Fallon's for example are fine. Rule of thumb is you should know the character from their silhouette alone, and stick with maybe two costume colors.

Hmmm, good point. Do you have any advice on how to fix that? Would turning her skirt into just one pleated layer instead of three be enough or should I re-work the whole thing?

When these guidelines are broken, it better be with consideration for why these guidelines were there in the first place: It's generally because, if you don't have an entire team helping you to make your comic happen, then it'll be twelve years from now that you're crying over having to color in another dozen sunflowers in Chiara's hair for the fifth panel in a row…unless you really meant that illustration to be for the art book, or artistic formal portraits, and/or you have every angle drawn of that flower crown in a hoard of your own images to simply copy-paste along with everybody's expressions. See Lars Martinson talk in a YouTube about having spent 13 years drawing a graphic novel here. That includes time-saving tips.

I've seen that video before! it's a really helpful watch (although it has been a year or so since then so maybe i should give it another listen…)

however because you mentioned Chiara's sunflowers, i realized i forgot to point out something kinda important when it comes to designs
The concept sketches i put in there are not my usual or intended comic style. While i don't have good examples of what my comic style looks like atm (been working on setting up commissions for too long and haven't had time to practice and develop it), it's not going to be linework-based, I'm kinda intending for it to be full-color and entirely painted, so details that would be a pain to outline such as flowers, backgrounds, and chains are as easy as a few abstract brushstrokes, and things that would otherwise be simple with lined work are more likely to bite me in the butt repeatedly. There's a good chance I'll be drawing this for a pretty long time because of that decision, but I also enjoy the process and results of painting so much more than lineart that I think it'll be way worth the extra effort-
That's why I stuck with more design details that are fun to paint, like metallic features and jewelry, as opposed to something like lace that would make me hate existence lol
The only example i currently know of a comic with this style is Ghostblade, which is a huge inspiration but also wayyy more complex and detailed than I'm going for, so i guess I'll just have to work on my style and update y'all on how it goes

With plot, I'll have to think on it, as I'm wanting it to be somewhere in between. Simple, but not without stakes, and with a few horror elements sprinkled in, but in a pretty and surreal way instead of a gore and jumpscare way, if that makes sense. ok maybe that isn't so simple. who knows
As i mentioned, I'm liking the idea of the world corrupting, of all the things my friends and i have come up with i feel like that'll be the most likely path I take. I'm just trying to figure out how that works essentially

I really just need to do more research with a lot of this. I rarely ever watch movies, read comics, or consume story-based mediums at all, so I don't really know what I'm doing with most of this
I'm hoping to take a couple weeks soon where i do nothing but binge, whether that's comics, anime, video game playthroughs, all of it even
but hopefully when i do that I can start to gain more inspiration from other's works and maybe figure out how the heck writing works to begin with
(oh btw if anyone has any recommendations please send them my way, thanks-)

I hope this helps!

It does a lot, thank you so so so much!!! I'll take what you said and see how i can grow things from here.
<3<3<3

@The-N-U-T-Cracker

Just a suggestion: use the MBTIs as more of a loose outline for the character. Sometimes I find that when I try to write them as a specific "personality type" they become blank as I try to force them into that category instead of just letting them develop.

That's what I've been doing, it wasn't until literally three days ago where i looked up their MBTIs, simply because i had no idea how the heck to describe personalities lol

@GoodThingGoing group

And I'll think more on the world corrupting idea, maybe i can find an explanation for it that isn't simply "the prophecy says so"

I'm biased since I'm a sucker for weird, confusing, and mystical planets (think Mortis from The Clone Wars) and also environmental corruption, but it could maybe be something like "the planet/earth has fallen ill"? I always struggle with having to remind myself that my worlds do not have to be like our earth: they don't need to be layered and shaped the same, have the same features, etc.. I mean, your conflict could be that the world runs on clockwork or something and the cogs get jammed; you have free reign to screw around with how the world is not just run, but powered.

@Althalosian-is-the-father book

You probably already know, but Lyra’s conflict in life has to do with the conflict now. Bog Bamd- What. Alright. Anyways Bog Bamd we’re keeping it that way—name maybe Lol is back. Which is cliche, but consider. He—Bamd is a he for now I decided— might not be back literally—assuming Bog is a humanish thing of living—but his legacy is. Could be anything. Evil spirit goo, a magic artifact left behind, literal earth poison if we go off Eva. You get the idea.

Deleted user

Do you have any advice on how to fix that? Would turning her skirt into just one pleated layer instead of three be enough or should I re-work the whole thing?

I think more like…Maybe try making all the clothes either yellow and white, or blue and white, or yellow and blue, black and white, or all yellow, or all blue, etc.

When it's only the hair ribbons, shoes, and accent on the vest that's yellow, then it's difficult to call that the accent color when it looks like the black vest should be the accent color… especially when the pink hair is already an attention-grabbing splash of color, that could go with yellow if the black and blue and white weren't all there at the same time.

(That said, I also have fun making "capsule wardrobes" for characters, which might be even less realistic for Aquila than a signature color, depending on her economic status; and that's more effort compared to keeping a character in one iconic outfit the whole way through except for hiking through icy mountaintops/tundras and maybe The Beach Episode.)

A couple of sketchy alternatives, apologies for my utterly potato anatomy: https://s3.amazonaws.com/notebook-content-uploads/content/uploads/original/1d3e9d17-aa8b-4452-b886-c9ceea915593.jpg?1620790916

I'm hoping to take a couple weeks soon where i do nothing but binge, whether that's comics, anime, video game playthroughs, all of it even but hopefully when i do that I can start to gain more inspiration from other's works and maybe figure out how the heck writing works to begin with

I always recommend the book Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine. It's obviously for much younger readers but there's more practical advice there, and put so much more clearly, than more prestigious authors who have published books about how to write. It also helped that before I read Writing Magic, I read Ella Enchanted by the same author and liked it.

But it also depends on what's your cup of tea—It's easy to find a random critic or a dozen who's going to say that you shouldn't be inspired by this or that because this thing or that thing is a bad story, or you mustn't learn from or take writing advice from so-and-so because blah, blah, blah…

…But it's all going to depend on what you like, and how analytically you can understand why you like it or dislike parts of it—and if the story you want to tell will include that element, which it doesn't have to if you don't feel that it fits your story.

@but-not-for-me group

If you're up for playing videogames, Final Fantasy VI! The developers have said that they went out of their way for the characters to each have their own distinguished silhouette and colour palette, and even if several characters have the same palette they mix the amounts of each colour around. Each character also has unique abilities and stats.

@The-N-U-T-Cracker

And I'll think more on the world corrupting idea, maybe i can find an explanation for it that isn't simply "the prophecy says so"

I'm biased since I'm a sucker for weird, confusing, and mystical planets (think Mortis from The Clone Wars) and also environmental corruption, but it could maybe be something like "the planet/earth has fallen ill"? I always struggle with having to remind myself that my worlds do not have to be like our earth: they don't need to be layered and shaped the same, have the same features, etc.. I mean, your conflict could be that the world runs on clockwork or something and the cogs get jammed; you have free reign to screw around with how the world is not just run, but powered.

Oooooooooh-!
Oh shoot i really like this, gonna have to play around with it :000

@The-N-U-T-Cracker

Do you have any advice on how to fix that? Would turning her skirt into just one pleated layer instead of three be enough or should I re-work the whole thing?

I think more like…Maybe try making all the clothes either yellow and white, or blue and white, or yellow and blue, black and white, or all yellow, or all blue, etc.

When it's only the hair ribbons, shoes, and accent on the vest that's yellow, then it's difficult to call that the accent color when it looks like the black vest should be the accent color… especially when the pink hair is already an attention-grabbing splash of color, that could go with yellow if the black and blue and white weren't all there at the same time.

(That said, I also have fun making "capsule wardrobes" for characters, which might be even less realistic for Aquila than a signature color, depending on her economic status; and that's more effort compared to keeping a character in one iconic outfit the whole way through except for hiking through icy mountaintops/tundras and maybe The Beach Episode.)

Ahh, I get what you mean. I'll play around with reduced colors and see what I can do. thanks so much!

A couple of sketchy alternatives, apologies for my utterly potato anatomy: https://s3.amazonaws.com/notebook-content-uploads/content/uploads/original/1d3e9d17-aa8b-4452-b886-c9ceea915593.jpg?1620790916

aw you didn't have to do that-
thank you, those are really cute-

And thank you guys for the recommendations, I'm adding them to my list <3