Three Basic Tips For Including Character Backstories In Your Story

Well, I thought that I’d talk briefly about backstory today. Although earlier drafts of this article were originally longer, they mostly focused on criticising examples of badly-handled backstory I’d seen in novels and this seemed a bit harsh. So, I eventually decided to just focus on the advice itself instead.

1) Little and often: Whilst in-depth characterisation is a good thing, it is important to remember that your reader will be reading your story for the actual story. In other words, what is happening “right now” as opposed to “several years earlier”.

So, it is better to have lots of shorter moments that show plot-relevant parts of a character’s backstory rather than one longer backstory segment.

The main plot always comes first. If you are going to include backstory, then make sure that it doesn’t distract too much from the main plot. In other words, “little and often” is the best approach to backstory.

2) Implication: This is a bit like the old “show, don’t tell” writing advice. In short, if you can quickly and briefly hint at part of your character’s backstory (by showing the effects of it), then your audience is probably going to understand. In other words, you don’t need to tell them the same thing twice by including a flashback segment.

Yes, flashback segments can be useful for showing the reader how a character either has or hasn’t changed over time and for seriously significant moments in that character’s life. But, a lot of the time, it’s better to just show the reader the effects of a character’s history and let your readers “fill in the gaps”.

3) Variation, contrast and realism:
In short, people’s lives are a mixture of different types of moments. There are good times and there are bad times. There are fond memories and times that are best forgotten. What I’m trying to say here is that, if you want your character to seem vaguely realistic, then there needs to be some variation in the emotional tone of their backstory.

Not only can this be contrasted with the events of the main plot for dramatic effect (eg: a character relying on memories of better times to get through a bad time. Or a good time being soured by miserable memories), but it also makes your character seem like a much more well-rounded person too. So, don’t be afraid to include a mixture of good and bad elements in your character’s backstory.

So, if you want your character’s backstory to be dramatic, then be sure to include emotional contrast in it.

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Sorry for the short article, but I hope that it was useful πŸ™‚

The Staying Power Of Characters – A Ramble

2017-artwork-character-ramble

A while before I wrote this article, I was watching an episode of “Doctor Who“, when I suddenly started thinking about how this TV series has run for so long (more than 50 years!) because the main character isn’t linked to any one particular person. And, more importantly, how this is an integral part of the series.

For those who have never heard of “Doctor Who”, it’s a series about a time-travelling alien called The Doctor who goes on all sorts of interesting adventures across the galaxy and throughout history. One interesting feature of this show is that The Doctor has multiple lives and “regenerates” into a different-looking person (with the same memories, but a very slightly different personality) after dying.

This has, of course, allowed numerous people to play The Doctor over the years – each bringing their own interpretation to the character, whilst keeping the show fairly consistent at the same time. Apart from the fact that The Doctor is always highly intelligent, militantly pacifist and at least slightly eccentric, every version of The Doctor is different and yet similar at the same time.

This made me think about characters in general and how things like prose fiction and comics have a huge advantage over virtually every other type of storytelling media out there.

In comics and prose fiction, characters are just that – characters. They can easily make cameo appearances in other stories and they can disappear for months or years (if a series goes on hiatus) and then reappear completely unchanged. Their voice-acting is always perfect (after all, it’s left up to the audience’s imaginations) and, if needs be, they can be written or drawn by multiple people at different times, with relatively little visible change.

Seriously, if you want to see characters and characterisation in it’s “purest” form, then you need to read some comics or novels. After all, the character is the character. They aren’t a particular actor or voice actor. They’re just a character. They are timeless.

In addition to this, since the audience has to add some of their own imagination to make a character in a comic or a novel “come alive”, it also means that the characters will always be the audience’s definitive version of that particular character. After all, if the audience unconsciously build the characters themselves (through reading descriptions, looking at static images etc..) then they are going to do this in the way that they feel is best.

For example, I’ve never seen the “Jack Reacher” film (and don’t intend to) but I’ve read at least a few of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels. My first thought upon reading about the film adaptation was something along the lines of “They chose Tom Cruise?! WHY? He looks nothing like Jack Reacher!“. Personally, my own mental image of what Jack Reacher looks like is probably closer to Kiefer Sutherland or Dolph Lundgren than Tom Cruise. But, someone must have imagined that he looked like Tom Cruise.

In other words, traditional storytelling mediums show characters to be what they truly are – products of the imagination. They are imaginary people who exist in the imaginations of hundreds or millions of people, with no two versions of the character being exactly alike. The character is more of an idea than anything else.

But, whenever this is replicated outside of prose fiction or comics, it never quite works. After all, we only see one other person’s idea of that character. Because of this, films, TV shows, videogames etc… are rarely able to immerse the audience in character creation in the way that books or comics can.

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Sorry for the short (and rambling) article, but I hope it was interesting πŸ™‚

One Thing I Learnt About Plot Twists From A Horror Movie

2017-artwork-horror-movie-plot-twists-article-sketch

Although I won’t post a full review of it (since I missed five minutes of it due to a scratched/damaged DVD), I recently watched a videogame-inspired horror movie sequel called “Silent Hill: Revelation”. One element of this film made me think about plot twists and how they can be ruined if the writer doesn’t think carefully about the characters.

Needless to say, this article will include some SPOILERS for “Silent Hill: Revelation”, you have been warned.

To summarise the events leading up to the plot twist – the film focuses on an American teenager called Heather Mason who has to keep moving from town to town regularly because she believes that her father is on the run from the police. She has also been suffering strange nightmares about a town called “Silent Hill”, in addition to disturbing hallucinations.

When she starts at a new high school, she ends up reluctantly making friends with another teenager called Vincent who later helps her flee when it turns out that it isn’t the police who are after both her and her father. Instead, it’s a mysterious cult that wants to take Heather to a cursed town called Silent Hill, so that they can use her in a ritual (for reasons that make more sense if you’ve seen the first “Silent Hill” film and/or played the classic “Silent Hill” games).

Of course, it is later revealed that Vincent was born and raised in Silent Hill and has been tasked with luring Heather there (even revealing an occult sigil that had to be carved on his chest in order to allow him to leave the cursed town). This is supposed to be a dramatic plot twist, but it just didn’t quite feel right. It took me a while to work out what was wrong with it, but I learnt an important lesson about plot twists in the process.

The plot twist doesn’t work because Vincent doesn’t seem like he was actually raised in the cursed town of Silent Hill. Even though the film tries to brush over this by having him make a comment along the lines of “oh, this is perfectly normal to me” when both he and Heather encounter monsters and crazed cultists later in the film, it still doesn’t really feel right in dramatic terms.

But, why? Well, Vincent comes across as a perfectly “normal” kind of person earlier in the film. Unlike the psychological torment that Heather clearly goes through at the beginning of the film, Vincent seems fairly laid-back and ordinary. He isn’t shocked and confused by the modern world, and he also seems to display at least a vague understanding of modern technology (despite being raised in a town that is permanently frozen somewhere in the 1930s-50s).

n other words he doesn’t actually seem like he was raised in Silent Hill. Everything about his personality etc… seems to suggest that he was raised somewhere less horrific. So, when it’s revealed that he has lived most of his life in Silent Hill, it just doesn’t make sense!

One of the oldest rules about plot twists is that they have to be foreshadowed. In other words, there have to be some subtle clues that (theoretically) allow the audience to guess the twist before it happens. This is important for dramatic reasons because it shows that the events behind the plot twist have had an effect on other parts of the story. In other words, it shows that the plot twist is actually part of the story – rather than something the writers just pulled out of thin air at the last minute.

The best, and easiest way to foreshadow a plot twist is just to show some of the knock-on effects that it has on the rest of the story, without giving an explanation. To go back to the “Silent Hill: Revelation” example, the fact that Vincent seems more “normal” than Heather completely contradicts the idea that Vincent grew up in a nightmarish monster-filled town run by a bizarre cult.

In other words, his personality should have been used for foreshadowing. Even if the film just showed him jumping when he heard a noise similar to the air-raid sirens from the town, or something like that – then it would clue the audience into the fact that he’d spent some time somewhere dangerous. But, since they wouldn’t have any more information than this, they still wouldn’t guess the plot twist – although it would make considerably more sense in dramatic terms.

So, yes, characters are an important part of any plot twist – and, when writing a character who is involved on a plot twist, you should think about what effect the “hidden” events of the plot twist have had on that particular character.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful πŸ™‚

Should Your Webcomic Include A Group Of Recurring Main Characters ?

2016 Artwork Webcomics recurring characters article sketch

Well, I’m still in the mood for writing about making webcomics so, for today, I thought that I’d look at one of the basic structural decisions that every webcomic-maker has to think about before starting a new comic series.

I am, of course, talking about whether or not your webcomic should feature a recurring group of main characters or whether it should mostly feature random characters in every comic. There are several advantages and disadvantages to both types of webcomic.

Personally, after getting back into making occasional “newspaper comic”-style webcomics (like this one) this year, I’ve gone down the “main characters” route:

These are the four main characters from my long-running occasional "Damania" webcomic series (in chronological order, based on first appearance).

These are the four main characters from my long-running occasional “Damania” webcomic series (in chronological order, based on first appearance).

The advantages of having a central cast of recurring characters is that, once you’ve got to know the characters, writing the comics can become significantly easier (eg: since you know what the characters’ interests are, how they react to things etc…). Likewise, it also means that there will be someone familar to the audience in each comic, once they’ve read a few comics.

Character-based comics can also have a lot more depth than “random character” comics can. After all, you can spend literally hundreds of comic updates developing your characters and turning them into interesting, unique people that your readers will want to spend a lot of time with. You can’t do this if a character only appears in just one comic strip.

But, although large amounts of character development will reward long-term readers, this comes at the cost of confusing new readers. Personally, I’ve tried to keep the level of character development in my comic relatively low in order to avoid putting off new readers, but still rewarding long-term readers.

On the downside, creating and developing a group of main characters can take a significant amount of time (eg: I started this occasional series in 2011/2012 and the characters are still developing in subtle ways). So, these types of webcomics take a lot more planning and/or a lot more trial-and-error to create than webcomics that don’t include recurring characters.

In addition to this, if you’ve spent a lot of time around a particular group of characters, then it can often seem easier to keep using these characters rather than creating new ones. This is both a blessing and a curse.

For example, when I got back into making comics in 2015, my first two comics (here and here) featured “new” characters. However, virtually every comic I’ve made since then has just featured the same group of characters that I originally created in 2011/2012 for the simple reason that I know how to write these four characters better than any other characters. This has limited the types of comics I can make, but it has also made it significantly easier for me to make comics (which results in more comics).

On the other side, in webcomics where there are no recurring characters (or just a few of them), the emphasis is very firmly on the joke. Unless your webcomic features well-known historical figures, fictional characters etc… then there is also very little room for anything more than the most basic type of characterisation. As such, the emphasis of the comic has to be on the dialogue and/or humour.

One advantage of this type of comic is that they have a much more “universal” look to them (since, after all, the world is full of random people) and they are also a lot more instantly accessible to new readers. After all, you don’t need to know the characters and you don’t need to have read any of the other comics in the series in order to get the most out of each update.

Likewise, it’s easier to make comics about a much wider range of topics if you take this approach, since you can just add new characters who are relevant to whatever your next comic update is about.

For example, if you want to make a science-based comic update, then you can just draw two scientists talking. If your next comic is about the Spanish Inquisition, then you can make the characters in that comic members of the Inquisition etc…

On the downside, these comics can be more challenging to write (since you can’t rely on character-based humour). Likewise, although they can often gain a distinct “identity” through things like the artist’s style, the writer’s sense of humour etc… they can lack the instant recognisability that a comic with a main cast of recurring characters has.

Of course, there are comics that don’t fit neatly into either category (eg: comics with mostly random characters, but a couple of recurring characters). But, this is something that is worth thinking about when you are planning a webcomic series.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful πŸ™‚

Characterisation And Crises – A Ramble (With A Comic Preview :) )

2016 Artwork Crises and Characterisation

Well, at the time of writing this article, I’m kind of busy with this year’s Halloween comic. Although it probably won’t start appearing here for a week and a half or so, I thought that I’d ramble about one basic characterisation technique that this comic has reminded me of.

Before I go any further, I should warn you that this article will contain some SPOILERS for my upcoming Halloween comic. So, if you’re looking forward to reading it without SPOILERS, then you might want to give this article a miss.

This basic characterisation technique is simply to place your characters in a crisis situation and to see how they react to it. This is, quite literally, one of the oldest tricks in the book (eg: it’s one of the many types of dramatic conflict that writers can use) and it works!

You can both show off a lot about your characters and learn a lot about them through this simple technique. At the very least, a crisis situation can be a good way to emphasise your characters’ personalities and to show them to the audience in a stronger way than you would be able to do during more “ordinary” situations.

With that said, I thought that I’d show you a few examples of the technique in action.

First of all, here’s a chart showing the characters in my Halloween comic (and the webcomic mini series that is being posted here every evening at the moment):

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] The Halloween comic will be in black & white, but the images in this chart are taken from my webcomic mini series (which isn't) .

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] The Halloween comic will be in black & white, but the images in this chart are taken from my webcomic mini series (which isn’t) .

My Halloween comic will be called “Zombies Again!” and, as you may have guessed from the title, it features these four characters trying to survive a zombie apocalypse.

Since this will be a comedy comic, there probably won’t be any of the usual depressing zombie movie/novel clichΓ©s (eg: finding groups of deranged survivors, characters deciding whether to shoot someone who has been bitten etc…). But, even though the “crisis” that these characters face is a relatively non-threatening one, this comic still ended up containing a lot more characterisation than I expected.

Ever since I got back into making this long-running comic series in 2015 (after a one-year hiatus), there have been quite a few subtle character changes. The most notable of these is that Derek has become something of an “evil” character. Most of the time, this is fairly subtle and understated – but, in the chaos of a zombie apocalypse, this side of his character can emerge a lot more freely….

 Here's a little preview...

Here’s a little preview…

Of course, being a comedy comic, this part of his character is played for laughs more than anything else. But, you get to see a lot more of his “evil” side than you might do in a 4-5 panel self-contained “newspaper comic” style webcomic update.

Rox is also a fairly interesting character to write in this Halloween comic, since she has a small amount of character development. At the beginning of the comic, she’s reluctant to actually fight the zombies and is more interested in both playing and modding old computer games (to the point where she doesn’t even hear about the zombie apocalypse when it appears on the news).

But, after one of her vintage floppy disks is lost to the zombies (in an amusingly bizarre way), she fights furiously to get it back. Yet, later in the comic, she’s also one of the “sensible” characters, who is more concerned with survival than with combat and/or opportunistic looting. These contradictions in her personality emerged a lot more freely during the crisis of a zombie apocalypse than they would in a self-contained 4-5 panel comic.

Harvey is the “sensible” and “altruistic” member of the group, and he has relatively little character development in this comic. Even so, he quickly ends up becoming the group’s leader during the zombie crisis. Another change is that his attitude towards fighting zombies is less gleeful than it was in this old comic from earlier this year. Despite this lack of character development, throwing him into a crisis situation allowed me to emphasise various pre-existing parts of his character.

Not only that, his dialogue during several zombie-related scenes also allowed me to show off a few other facets of his character – such as the fact that (despite being in his twenties) he has little understanding of youth subcultures from after the 1960s, he compiles lists of additional safety rules, he does public speaking about security etc..

Roz, of course, is Roz. That is, to say, her reactions to the zombie apocalypse are complex and varied. She was originally the “evil” character in the series, but she’s since turned into more of a “neutral”/ “good evil” kind of character over the space of several years. By placing her in a crisis situation, these elements of her personality are also amplified.

About half of the time, she’s fairly altruistic (eg: she helps the group find safety, she saves another character’s life, she’s occasionally reluctant to fight unnecessarily etc…). But, the other half of the time, she’s shown to be a sadistic nihilist pyromaniac whose main complaint about the zombie apocalypse is the fact that none of the TV stations are showing zombie movies on Halloween (out of respect for those affected by the apocalypse).

By placing her into a crisis situation, these conflicting facets of her personality get to emerge a lot more often and – more importantly- contrast with each other a lot more frequently.

So, yes, these are a few examples of how adding a crisis situation to your comic or story can be a great way to either develop or emphasise your characters.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful πŸ™‚

Four Classic Ways To Bring A Character Back From The Dead

2016 Artwork Resurrecting characters article sketch

Although it cheapens the dramatic value of any deaths in your story or comic whenever you resurrect a character, there are sometimes good dramatic reasons for bringing back a character that your audience believed was dead. So, how do you do this?

Here are a few popular ways that writers, directors, comic makers etc… have brought their characters back from the dead. Needless to say, this article may contain SPOILERS for several things (including Sherlock Holmes, “Battlestar Galactica”, “Supernatural” and “The Blackwell Epiphany”)

1) It was all fake: The classic “realistic” way to bring back a dead character is to reveal that they actually faked their death. Provided you can think of a logical explanation for both how and why they did this, then this technique can work fairly well.

It’s also easier to use this technique if the other characters don’t actually see your “dead” character’s body. However, thanks to this technique being used so often, the lack of a body is usually a giveaway that a particular character will be brought back to life later.

The classic example of this technique in action is, of course, at the beginning of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Return Of Sherlock Holmes”. At the end of “The Memoirs Of Sherlock Holmes”, Watson learns from a note that Sherlock Holmes and his nemesis Moriarty fall to their deaths above the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland. In “The Return Of Sherlock Holmes”, it’s revealed that Holmes actually flung Moriarty to his death, but then faked his own death to avoid reprisals from Moriarty’s henchmen.

However, this wasn’t the first time that Sherlock Holmes re-appeared after his “death”. Which brings us on to….

2) Prequels and flashbacks: This is another “realistic” way to bring a character back. It’s also a way of bringing a character back, without actually bringing them back. All you have to do is to tell a new story that is set before the character’s death, or to include scenes where other characters have new memories of times that they spent with the “dead” character when they were still alive.

The classic example of this is, of course, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Hound Of The Baskervilles”. Although it was written several years after “The Memoirs Of Sherlock Holmes” was written and a while before “The Return Of Sherlock Holmes” was written, this novel is set several years before Holmes’ “death” on the Reichenbach Falls. This allowed Conan Doyle to write about Holmes again, without having to bring him back.

3) Science: If you’re writing a sci-fi story, then there are plenty of ways that you can bring your characters back to life. You can make clones of them (which gives you the chance to change a few things about the character’s personality), you can find alternate versions of them in parallel universes or you can simply bring them back to life using futuristic technology.

The important thing to remember here is that your characters should be changed somewhat by this experience. In other words, if you want it to retain it’s dramatic value, then it needs to be used as a tool for further character development.

A classic example of this can be found in the modern version of “Battlestar Galactica”. In the early seasons of the show, a character called Boomer learns that she is actually a Cylon agent (a group of humanoid robots who are trying to eliminate humanity).

Her programming causes her to try to kill the captain – although she is arrested for this, she is later shot by one of the crew members in retaliation. Being a Cylon, the contents of her mind are downloaded to a new body on board a Cylon “resurrection ship” and, thanks to her experiences, she gradually begins to sympathise more with the Cylons.

Another classic example would, of course, be “Doctor Who”. In this long-running TV series, The Doctor (thanks to his alien biology) has the ability to resurrect himself a certain number of times. This works well in the context of the show since this ability is only really used when the makers of the show want to replace the actor who plays The Doctor with another actor. Since The Doctor’s personality and appearance change after every resurrection, this ensures that his “death” still has a serious impact on the show every time it happens.

Likewise, the classic sci-fi sitcom “Red Dwarf” begins with virtually all of the characters being killed in a reactor accident. Whilst one of the main characters ( Dave Lister) survives because he was in stasis at the time, another one of the main cast ( Arnold Rimmer) is brought back to life as a sentient hologram.

4) Magic, ghosts and/or zombies: This one is fairly self-explanatory, and it can work well in both the fantasy and horror genres. The thing to remember here is that, like in the sci-fi genre, resurrecting a character should be used as an opportunity for character development (except, of course, if your character is resurrected as a zombie).

Many, many examples of this kind of thing can be found in an excellent horror-themed TV show called “Supernatural”. Both of the main characters die and return to life at least once (due to angels and/or demons bringing them back). Likewise, in one season of the show, another important character called Bobby dies. This is, of course, followed by a long sub-plot about his ghost trying to contact the other main characters and about his experiences as a ghost (and, later, his experiences in the afterlife).

One interesting twist on this idea can be found in a stunningly dramatic computer game called “The Blackwell Epiphany”. This is the final game in a series of detective/horror/puzzle games set in the present day, where you play as a psychic medium (Rosa) who is accompanied by a ghost from the 1930s (called Joey). They meet other ghosts, investigate their deaths and help them to cross over into the afterlife.

At the end of the game, Joey is resurrected (albeit at the cost of Rosa’s life). He goes from being a ghost to being an actual person again. The final scenes of the game focus on Joey’s reactions to being alive again and about how he still remembers being a ghost, but prefers being alive. It’s a wonderfully bittersweet moment and it contains a lot of character development.

So, yes, if you’re going to use “magic” to resurrect your characters, then you need to include character development too.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful πŸ™‚

How To Turn Stock Webcomic Characters Into Something More Interesting

2016 Artwork Stock Webcomic Characters Article

Although I’ll be talking about how to create interesting characters for your webcomic, I’m going to have to start by talking about movies from the 1980s briefly. As usual, there’s a good reason for this.

If you’ve ever seen “The Breakfast Club“, you probably know what I’m talking about when I say stock characters. One of the things that makes this movie such a classic is that each character initially represents a particular attitude and/or a subculture, but they gradually turn out to have more depth. They start out as stock characters and then turn into something slightly more than that.

It’s very easy to write stock characters, and there’s a good reason why all types of writers sometimes use them. One of the easiest ways to add humour to your webcomic is to just put two characters with contrasting personalities together (eg: a slacker and a neat freak, like in the early series of “Red Dwarf) and see what happens. This is is one of the oldest dramatic techniques in existence and the technical term for it is a “foil“.

When you’re planning out your webcomic, it can be a good idea to use personality types or subcultures as a starting point. For example, when you’re planning out your characters, you can make one a stoner, one a conservative, one a goth etc..

After all, this is probably what you would notice if you actually met these characters for the first time and, if you’ve just created them, then you’ve just met them. So, get to know them better. Sketch a few practice comics and spend a bit of time with these characters. Write dialogues between them and the other characters. Just spend some time with your characters.

Because stock characters are a shallow collection of basic personality traits and/or appearances, they don’t really last very long if you’re constantly writing things about them. After a while, you’re going to have to start coming up with other details about them, you’re going to have to think things like “what does this character think about this subject?” and, gradually, your stock characters will begin to have more depth.

Of course, if you don’t have time for this, you can just start actually making your webcomic and let your characters evolve in front of everyone else.

To give you an example from my intermittant long-running “Damania” webcomic series (you can find some recent episodes here, here and here), Rox (the woman with green hair) originally started out as a generic punk/goth character when she was first added to the main cast in 2013, and she later became something of a geek and a retro gamer too. Earlier this year, she also gradually evolved into a retro technology geek too:

"Damania Redux - Was Better In 1998" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Redux – Was Better In 1998” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Resurgence - Smart Phones" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Resurgence – Smart Phones” By C. A. Brown

Following on from this technological traditionalism, she found that she had more in common with Harvey (a traditionalist detective who was added to the main cast in 2012) than she used to, so the dynamic behind these two characters gradually changed from a very slightly antagonistic one to a more friendly one:

"Damania Resurgence - Debunked (Censored Version)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Resurgence – Debunked (Censored Version)” By C. A. Brown

Well, most of the time anyway:

"Damania Restricted - But, Is A Smartphone Mightier Than A Sword?" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Restricted – But, Is A Smartphone Mightier Than A Sword?” By C. A. Brown

So, another thing that can help if you’re worried that your characters are turning into stock characters (or haven’t evolved beyond being stock characters) is to introduce a new character who is similar to one of your other characters. This is a bit of a risky strategy, but it can work.

For example, if your comic now has two goth characters instead of one, then you’re going to have to do something to set them apart from each other. As such, this forces you to make each character slightly more distinctive and complex.

Going back to my “Damania” webcomic series, before Rox appeared in 2013 most of the punk/goth-based stuff in the comics revolved around a character called Derek. Here he is in an old comic from 2012:

"Damania - The Interpretation Of Dreams" By C. A. Brown [ 18th October 2012]

“Damania – The Interpretation Of Dreams” By C. A. Brown [ 18th October 2012]

When I introduced Rox to the comic, Derek gradually became slightly more interested in heavy metal (to create some contrast between him and Rox). In fact, I eventually posted a comic update about this earlier this year:

"Damania Resurgence - Goth Night" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Resurgence – Goth Night” By C. A. Brown

He also became slightly more of a foolish character too. Again, this was to set the two characters apart. But, he was still slightly generic.

It was only later last year and earlier this year, that he finally started to come into his own as a character again – he occasionally has slightly more of a dark side (like in this comic), he can still be fairly foolish and he can also can be fairly opinionated sometimes too. Like in tonight’s episode of “Damania Restricted” (you’ll have to wait and see) and in this comic too:

"Damania Returns - Hollywood" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Returns – Hollywood” By C. A. Brown

So, I guess that what I’m trying to say here is that there’s nothing wrong with starting out by using stock characters in your webcomic. However, it’s usually a good idea to find ways to make them evolve beyond this as soon as possible.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful πŸ™‚