Well, since I miscalculated the number of days in this month (Why does August have 31 days? It makes no logical sense!) I needed to come up with one more article than I expected to.
Anyway, this made me think about the whole subject of writing and drawing filler material. Not that this fine article is a filler article, of course….
Since I’ve already written about this subject last year, I thought that I’d list a few more clever ways of adding filler material to your webcomic, novel, website, DeviantART page, serialised story etc… today. However, I should point out that this guide is mostly geared towards online-based things rather than traditional print media.
As I said last year, you should be careful not to add too much filler material to anything that you create – because it will “dilute” your work and too much filler will make people lose interest in whatever you are creating.
Anyway, that said, let’s begin:
1) Sketchbooks And Notes: This technique will only really work if you’re posting things online at regular intervals (eg: a webcomic, a serialised story etc…), but it can be one of the best ways to add some quick filler material if you’re worried about missing an update.
Basically, just scan/photograph a few pages from your sketchbook (if you’re making a comic) or type up some of your early story planning notes (being careful to avoid spoilers) and then use them for an update. Yes, you’ll have to write a brief introduction but it requires a lot less time and effort to make than a regular update for the simple reason that you’ve already made most of the stuff you’re putting in your update.
Not only that, it’s one of the best types of filler for the simple reason that, if you have any fans who follow your work, then they’re probably going to be fascinated by the creative process that goes into making your webcomic or story. So, giving them a tantalising glimpse into your private sketchbooks/notebooks will help to satisfy some of their curiosity.
2) Competitions: You’ll have to use your imagination here, but a good way of coming up with a quick update is to post a competition of some kind for your audience.
Because you’re posting something on the internet (with an international audience), it’s probably best to give out intangible prizes rather than having to post physical prizes to audience members in other countries.
Good ideas for intangible prizes include things like, adding the winner’s name to your novel as a background character, sketching the winner in the background of one scene in your comic, just saying that this person has won first prize etc….
Not only does this increase audience loyalty to your website, but if you get your audience to post their entries (or links to their entries) in the comments on your site, then you can come up with lots of stuff for people to look at – without having to create any of it yourself.
3) Fictional non-fiction: If you’re writing a novel, then you can add filler by including a scene or segment of your novel where either you or one of your characters explains some trivial part of the world of your story. Because you’ve probably already thought about this sort of stuff before, then there hopefully won’t be too much new creativity involved in creating one of these scenes.
For example, if you’re writing a fantasy novel, then you could include a few short “The Almanac of (your setting)” chapters throughout your novel that explain some of the weird and wonderful things in your story in more detail. A good sci-fi example of this technique can be found in the “Game Cat” chapters of a cyberpunk novel called “Vurt” by Jeff Noon.
Just don’t use this technique too often, because it goes against the “show, don’t tell” rule for good descriptive writing.
4) Alternative comics: I found this interesting horror comic online a few weeks ago and, although there has obviously been a lot of creative effort put into it, one of the interesting things about it is that one chapter of it doesn’t really look like a traditional comic. In fact, most pages of this chapter consist of nothing but “voice-over” dialogue and a single minimalist background image and/or pattern.
So, if you need to make a quick comic- then it might be worth trying this approach. Yes, you’ll still have to put a lot of effort into the writing, but it means that you can either make quick and simple art for each page or just use old public domain/ Creative Commons licenced images from the internet.
Yes, you’ll have to search for the right image for each page (and check it’s copyright/ licencing status) but it will save you having to create lots of art from scratch.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂