Creating a story

A few years ago, I was drawing a fantasy comic. I already had the story (it was my first roleplaying campaign), so I simply followed that with minor tweaks to make it more appealing. Great job, wasn’t it?


It was incoherent, inconsequential, with a lot of ideas but not integrated one with the other. Plus, the art was hideous, but that’s not the point. Or it is, but I’ll get to that later. I stopped drawing it midway, when I realized I was far too deep in chaos to be respectful of my (two) readers and deliver them a good story. So I put the project aside.

I won’t lie, I always loved that story and wanted to make something out of it. It kept running in my mind background, and when I occasionally found myself bored, I kept delving into it. Breaking, recontructing, modifying, creating and erasing. I am still working on it, slowly but constantly. These are the things I learnt and am still learning.

The World

You can’t move your characters in an undefined world. This realization came pretty later, since I thought I knew my world, but in fact it was only idealized. Does it follow physical laws? How does magic works? Are there dragons, elves, dwarfs? Where do they come from? In what are they different from humans? How does society work? Are mages an elitist caste? How does government work? An answer to these and other questions… sometimes in the distant future. I don’t have all the answers because I don’t have all the questions yet. And that’s fine.

map of a fantasy world
Back then I thought a fancy map was enough. How was I wrong.
The Characters

My characters went under massive redesign, too. Some were too powerful, some were useless to the plot, some needed a different purpose. The issue with characters is that you get attached to them, and it’s awfully difficult to let them go. Unfortunately, I had to understand that characters are almost never necessary to a story: you can change any of them in nearly any possible way, and it usually wouldn’t affect the storyline at all.

My first approach was a good guys VS. bad guys thing: then I thought, but there are not good guys and bad guys in the real world! So I tried to blur the line in a Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) kind of storytelling: different POVs, no moral judgement, everyone has her own motives. It was a mess.

Then again, I realized that tropes work well because people are familiar with them, and this isn’t a bad thing: good guys VS. bad guys is it, then. I can just follow the hero and have a more streamlined story (think about Harry Potter: you almost never see Voldemort’s POV, but it doesn’t hinder a good story).

You go, good guys.
The Story

The story itself was a mess from the start, but I hadn’t realized yet. I firmly knew the beginning and the end, and thought that the middle part would unwrap itself in itinere. Well, I’ve been wrong a lot of times. The middle part is where the story actually happens, and I couldn’t afford to ignore it. I started a lot of subplots without knowing how they would develop and ended making a mess. Now I know I have to have everything crystal clear before grabbing a pencil. Bad comic artist, bad.

Will this scene ever appear in the story? Never mind, it’s cool anyway.
The Artwork

Oh boy the artwork. I’m not saying I completely missed the target here, because I practised a lot and learnt even more, so I’m kinda glad I drew 100+ pages. But gawd, they sucked.

Two simple words I have to get tattooed on my forehead: Preparatory Drawings. I’m capitalizing them because they’re so freaking important. I should have drawn and redrawn every. single. little. thing. til I could dream about them. I should have been able to see my characters’ faces as they were my coworkers’. I should have known the environments as I had visited them. I should have rendered movement as… as I were an actual artist, which I’m not. Again, bad artist.

Warning, this is not a sketch. Actual artwork.

I’m not ready yet to undertake this ordeal again. I’d really like to make an actual graphic novel out of this story, but this is a future project. There’s still so much to do. I don’t know when it will see the light, but it definitely will.

Wish me luck!