While working on Chapter 4, I called it “band-aid” chapter. Basically, with all the exploration I had been doing with the previous chapters, a lot of important setup for characters’ motivations got lost in the cracks. I felt I needed to resolve this before moving further, so my goal with this chapter was to try and make it more obvious as to why people were doing what they were doing in Herogirl, so they can enjoy the comic as they enjoy other things such as they enjoy games like WoW, getting gold for this online, click here for more.

So instead of laying out reflections in terms of lessons learned, I’ll lay out what my goals were for Chapter 4, and talk about whether or not I thought I achieved them.

  1. Resolve why Auto has been travelling with Gear.This was one of my major goals because the fact that Auto has been travelling with Gear really bothered me! She doesn’t even know the guy — it’d be different if I had the foresight to establish trust between them somehow, but I never did. So with Chapter 4, there were two choices I thought of: either this would be the trust-building chapter, or I would steel Auto’s resolve to continue on her mission. I went with the latter choice by getting Auto and Gear into a fight of sorts. By doing this, I wanted to show some conflict between them (Gear is OK with stealing, Auto is not) which would also hopefully set up a contrast between their characters I could draw on later, but I didn’t get the chance to really explore this more. To set up this fight, Auto needed to doubt why she was even travelling with him, and there needed to be mistrust. In the end, she realizes she needs his help, which was my solution to this problem, though I wish I had gone with an ending that was less practical and more character-driven.
  2. Make Auto an active character.This was my main goal for Chapter 4. I’ve been increasingly happy with the story arcs contained with the chapters I’ve written so far, but as far as the overall story goes, Auto hasn’t done much. She’s mostly been dragged around by Gear, and as a result, we know little about her. Who is she? What is she good at? What does she personally bring to the Gear-Auto partnership? What makes her tick? Part of this problem comes from the fact that she was a self-insert character I created when I was, like, 13, so she is naturally very passive. Ideally, I would have tackled this problem head on with her from Chapter 0, but now that she’s been around for a while, I have to adjust her character a little slowly. It’s a complicated problem.

    My take on a solution in Chapter 4 was to give Auto a problem (in this case, Vestris stealing the Herald) and have her be the one to solve it (well, she tries, anyway). This also means that Gear had to temporarily be put out of the way and that Auto needed to show some sort of inner motivation for her actions. In addition, I tried to tell the story from her point-of-view, so the reader could get more of a sense of how she thinks and acts. The tricky part was to include all of this that made sense in the tiny package that is a comic chapter.

  3. Introduce the existence of Heraldic powers.As part of making Auto more of main character, I wanted her to be more practically useful as a character. The Heraldic powers was always part of the plan, but introducing them now made for a good plot device that could help Auto tackle a story problem by herself. I was originally going to have the Lion explain powers to Auto, but that seemed like a lot of telling, not showing. Instead, I went with Auto encountering it as part of a cultural event in the city she was in — a little better, and slightly more natural.
  4. Set up Gear’s backstory.Gear’s motivation has been hinted at in previous chapters, but I felt like it was high time for his story to be told straight out. Auto’s doubt in him seemed like a good segue, as she could ask what he’s all about, and he could tell her.
  5. Set up Jovian’s backstory, and set him apart from Lothar.Jovian has, so far, just been Lothar’s lackey, though it’s been hinted that he has plans of his own. I wanted to draw that out in the open as well, hence the small side-story at the end of Chapter 4. This time, Ana is the one asking the questions. I also wanted to set up a sense of Jovian operating under some risk, though I think I could have done a better job setting up how dangerous Lothar really is.
  6. Remind readers who Ana is.Finally, I wanted to remind readers that Ana is still captured (and thus, remind people of Auto’s goal). What is she up to? Is she in immediate danger? How is she handling capture? I actually do like her little section of the story the best out of Chapter 4, because it’s not so darn complicated.

Overall, I would say I definitely tried to tackle way too much in Chapter 4! If I could do it again, I would have created a chapter focusing on Auto and Gear building trust and learning more about each other (tackling the character development issue), and then written a separate chapter dedicated to more macro-story stuff (Heraldic powers, people’s backstories, etc.). I did an OK job folding all these goals into each other, but since each part of the story is tackling so much, I think this chapter came off as kind of rushed. I definitely have to remember to not to be so impatient and be wary of telling the story too fast.

That’s all for now! Hope this was interesting and helpful. Time to move on to Chapter 5!