Making of Junkyard Chase 2 – Elements of Plot
In our previous entry in the Making of Junkyard Chase series, we talked about inspiration. I got my inspiration for this particular story from classic cartoons.
From this inspiration, and knowing the key elements of a story similar to a Wylie Cyote cartoon, I needed a few things: characters, environment, and situation. These are three of the four elements of plot that Alan Moore identified in his book “Writing for Comics.”
The fourth element is time, but we’ll get to that eventually. For now, let’s start with the first three elements.
So you need characters in a story with distinct motivations that drive their decisions and actions throughout the story. Knowing that I wanted the story to be all-ages friendly and that there’s a lot of physical (but cartoony) violence, I needed a character that can take the abuse but make it funny.
In the Wylie Coyote cartoons, he’s constantly trying to get the Roadrunner and his plans never go as they should. It’s like the universe is working against him. His straps a rocket to his back and light the match, but then the match goes out. Or it rains. Or the rocket fires when he least expects it and he crashes into a wall.
He takes a lot of physical abuse, but always comes back for more. I needed a character like that.
If you have a chaser, you also need a chasee. Someone the chaser is going after and trying to get their hands on – for whatever reason. So now we have two characters.
This is all that typically exists in a Roadrunner cartoon, so I was fine with this beginning. Next I wanted to think about the environment – which would hopefully help put some of these pieces together into something coherent I can work with.
So where is a fun location to have a chase that hasn’t been done before. A city could be fun, but there’s a lot of distraction there – a lot of cars and other people. I wanted something more fantasy based and not so “real world,” so scratch that.
I also wanted some place identifiable, so a fantasy or sci-fi world are kind of out of the picture.
Upon driving to my folks place one day while pondering these questions, I passed a giant scrap yard. Towers of old tires, crushed cars, and other scraps of metal were strewn about, creating an interesting visual aesthetic and a lot of texture – which I seem to be fixated on lately in my designs.
“Wow!” I thought to myself. “If I were a little kid again, I’ve love to go running around in there!”
And then I saw the sign by the entrance that said “Danger,” and that settled it. Junkyards are dangerous places, and you can get hurt in them. Perhaps someone working in the junkyard is trying to keep someone out for their own good. And in trying to keep them safe, they themselves have unfortunate events happen to their person.
I had the elements of plot established, and now I had a story premise – somehow at the same time!
The pieces were falling together, but now I needed to come up with some characters and tie everything together.