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<   No. 1292   2006-08-10   >

Comic #1292

1 Draak: Draak smell orcs. Near. Get more near.
2 Mordekai: All right! A fight!
2 Draak: {disappointedly} Not be good fight. Just few orcs each.
2 Mordekai: Oh... urk...
3 Sting: {i.e. Lambert's magic sword, singing} Don't stand so... don't stand so... don't stand so close to me!
3 Lambert: Shut up you stupid sword!
4 Alvissa: It didn't do that when we saved Dwalin from those orcs.
4 Lambert: I wasn't trying to hide then!

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This is some serious long-term continuity here, referencing strip #16. Hopefully some readers will have forgotten that strip, but be aware enough that Lambert's sword is named Sting to make the joke both unexpected and funny.

I wrote this script without Draak's and Mordekai's second lines in panel 2. When putting it together the blank white space around Mordekai's short line cried out for a one-liner response from Draak. I struggled for a while working variants of Draak saying something like, "Methinks you have an over-aggressive tendency towards using violence as the solution to all problems." I babbled a bit on a chat network about it and someone suggested turning it around and having Draak be disappointed that the upcoming fight would be too easy. And bingo, that meshed perfectly with the rest of the gag in panels 3 and 4.

It's nice when things fall into place like that.

2016-01-30 Rerun commentary: Besides providing the joke, the last panel also defuses the potential question of why Sting didn't sing last time the characters encountered orcs. Neat, huh?

That's a secret of writing stuff by the seat of your pants, folks. Find your plot inconsistencies before the readers do and turn them into significant dramatic or humorous elements with an in-story explanation.

This is the next level up from mere lampshading, which is pointing out an inconsistency or implausibility and then just ignoring it and moving on, knowing that the audience will be satisfied enough that the writer is aware of the issue and not just a terrible writer.

Rather than mention-and-ignore, mention-and-explain is ultimately more satisfying, both to the audience because things make sense now, and to the writer, because you can pretend that you had this explanation set up all along, thus giving the appearance of clever planning and forethought!

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