What Makes You NOT Drop a Webcomic?

What Makes You NOT Drop a Webcomic? - Tips in creating a webtoon

Have you ever wondered: What makes you not drop a webcomic? What makes it appealing in the first place? What makes you binge it, eagerly anticipate its next update, and excitedly read it until the end? Or if you're a webcomic artist, what makes you excited about creating your webcomic? What makes you endure the challenges of completing X amount number of panels every week for several weeks -- or even years -- until you're content about how it will end? 

It's all about The Story.

If we only have a lovable (or problematic) character and a series of events, we don't always have a story.

No matter how attractive that character is or how weird the events are, if there's no story, that character only becomes a nice art or wallpaper to look at, and those events are just nice things to hear or read.

We don't get too invested in them. We don't care. 

Then what happens next?

We drop them.

To have a story in general -- whether good or bland -- there must be a problem to be solved, a challenge that must be overcome, or an issue that must be resolved.

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There should be something we anticipate happening and changing.

It took me a while to understand this during our Creative Writing class. Whether I'll be able to apply that lesson well or not from now on is another thing though, especially since I am getting bored of my own webcomic (lol, help!) that I wanna drop it myself (again!) and create a new one.

What Makes You NOT Drop a Webcomic - Tips

Anyway, before we talk about what makes a story good, let's talk about these 4 main types of story ideas first to make things a bit clearer (so no one should come at me with "Oh! But this so-and-so character is so good, maaaan. I only read this webcomic because of him!").

The 4 main types of story ideas are:

1. Character-driven - this focuses on a unique character or character traits, and how they grow and develop over time. This is usually used (though not limited) in Drama, Romance, and Superhero genres. Examples of this are Love Advice From the Great Duke of Hell (webtoon) and Spy X Family (anime).

2. Event-driven - this showcases an unusual event or series of events, and how everyone in the story is propelled around because of it. This is usually used in Action, Thriller & Historical genres. Examples of where this is shown well are Like Wind on a Dry Branch (webtoon) and any of the JoJo series (anime).

3. Idea-driven - this emphasizes a certain belief or philosophy of either the webcomic artist/author or the character in their story, and how everyone is moved because of this new idea. This is often used in Heartwarming, Comedy, and Fantasy genres. Great examples where a key lesson, idea or philosophy drives the story are God of Bath (webtoon) and Psycho Pass (anime).

4. Settings-driven - this introduces a new or existing type of world, and how it imposes on everyone that inhabits it and changes their lives. This is usually used in Horror and Dystopian genres. Great examples of this are Sweet Home (webtoon) and Id: Invaded (anime).  

The way I numbered them is based on their difficulty of being the focus of the story --  with Character-based being the easiest and Settings-based being the most difficult.

It's best to focus on only one of these at a time as the main driving force of the story, while the rest act as support.

But what makes a story actually good?

To understand and fully appreciate what's good, we must figure out what makes a story bad in the first place. 

For me at least, it all boils down to these:

1. Nothing's happening. The character is just being attractive -- or edgy for edginess' sake. It's all empty platitudes or blocks of text about what happened in the past, but no show. 

No action. 

Overall, nothing's changing in the situation. 

The story is flat. 

Everyone's running around but not really going anywhere. 

To fix this, we must throw another challenge that's difficult, or better yet, seems impossible to overcome. 

If that's planned anyway along the way, then change the pacing

Chop - chop! 

Make it snappy, make it quick!

2. Nothing original to show or say. Everything is too predictable. Ho-hum. The story is built around tropes -- actually, no wait. There's nothing inherently wrong with using tropes. It's only bad if we've seen them a lot of times already, and there's no effort to twist something or make it unique.

The obvious solution for this is to have something new to show or say in the first place in whatever story idea you've chosen above as your focus. 

That's hard.

I know.

So the alternative is to at least show a fresh angle. Throw an oddity, a weird knick-knack in the story. Have an unexpected twist at the end of that latest chapter.

I'd like to add a 3rd one and that's dialogue. But dialogue is too arbitrary. There are even some that are still great even without it! Some parts of Love Advice by the Great Duke of Hell don't have dialogue -- and they're the funniest or poignant ones. 

As long as the dialogue fits the scene and doesn't sound forced, it's cool.

Love Advice from the Great Duke of Hell -- great webtoon example

For the sake of keeping things non-R18 here, I can't mention my other faves, so let's stick to the examples mentioned above (which I also love).

With Great Duke of Hell, it's just comedy after comedy in each chapter. I don't know what's happening next, everything is so unexpected -- and the facial expressions: Pure gold!

It will have a film adaptation soon, though I don't know how that's gonna go because just like popular anime shows getting cursed live-action adaptations, it's hard to replicate the facial expressions from the source material into real life. 

Let's hope for the best.
Love Advice from the Great Duke of Hell -- movie adaptation
source: unfins (Webtoon)

Like Wind on a Dry Branch, on the other hand, narrates an ordinary historical fantasy story from a new angle. I won't mention any spoilers here, but the male lead is a total green flag and the opposite of traditional heroes shown in such a genre, all the while, taking advantage of the reader's familiarity with certain tropes.

Like Wind on a Dry Branch -- great webtoon example

With God of Bath, I honestly don't know or don't remember why I clicked it (I don't regret it one bit). There's a lot to unpack when it comes to this webcomic especially out of the 4 webtoon titles I've mentioned in this post, this is my #1 favorite. Let's save its more in-depth study on another post. For now, let's just say it's very rare to make a story about scrubbing dead skin cells extremely interesting.

God of Bath -- great webtoon example

Last but not least, Sweet Home. It transforms the typical zombie story into something more sinister -- your sweet next-door neighbor looks normal on camera, but in reality already a monster. Let's make it more threatening by locking you in a building together with the monsters, instead of being able to run freely wherever to escape. 

Sweet Home -- great webtoon example

What all these 4 have something in common is that they show something new on top of having great pacing -- the opposite of a bad story.

--- ♡---  .·͙*̩̩͙˚̩̥̩̥*̩̩̥͙ ✩ *̩̩̥͙˚̩̥̩̥*̩̩͙‧͙ . --- ♡ ---

I play this little game every time I read a mystery story:

I read the first chapter, and if I get thrown in the middle of the action right away, that's good. Pacing matches the vibe of the story? Cool.

Then I try to predict what the ending's gonna be like.

If the ending blows my mind and is totally different from my prediction, GREAT. Imma read it! 

If the ending matches with my prediction, BUT I have no clue how point A goes to point B, cool. I'll still read it!

Other than that, I'll put the book back on its shelf. If it's a webcomic, I'll close it and check out other titles perhaps. 

I play this little game too in my own webcomic. If it doesn't pass and also lacks the "oomph" at the start, I abandon it for now -- or for good.

No amount of consistency and finish-what-you-started will make that any better. It's a waste of time.

Create a new good one.

So what makes a good webcomic?

What makes a good story?

Again, good pacing and shows something new

That's it.

The art used in the featured image is by the author. Love Advice from Great Duke of Hell, Like Wind on a Dry Branch, God of Bath, and Sweet Home images all belong to their respective owners and are simply used here for editorial purposes. All rights reserved.

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