Best Way to Write a Pilot Episode?


Hi! I need some advice for writing the first episode of a long-form webcomic. I want to establish main characters, the setting, and mood without it really having a set mood. Thus far I have the script written (totalling 5 pages), but I am not confident in it as a first episode.

My story is primitive-genre, having an elfin caveboy (elves can cavemen too, LOL!), who is 11 years old living with his clan. He is destined to become chief when he comes of age (22), and has many lessons on the way as he grows up to chief and beyond. I want the stories to be humorous, but also for them to be serious when needed.

This is the summary of the first episode. Don’t be afraid to give me your opinion:

Prophecy of the next chief is shown in a brief Prologue. Title card. Character’s village is shown. Yani is introduced. Yani is told he will be chief. His dad, the current chief, tells him to pick berries with his friend Korak. Yani’s rival is introduced; rival teases Yani for not being ‘manly’ since rival gets to go hunting with his father. Yani picks berries with Korak. Yani rejects it because he thinks it’s too girly. The two friends try hunting. They injure an animal. Yani confesses what happened. Yani’s father finds prey animal and puts it out of its misery. Yani learns a hard lesson about consulting with the elders and about judgement.

Can you have a serious first episode? Would that be a turn-off for readers or no? I don’t want someone to stop reading after Issue 01 or something, that would be bad. Please help me, I will be quite grateful. :slight_smile: If you want to look at the script and critique it, that would be great too.



Not sure I can offer much advice except maybe think of some comics that you admire and track down the first entries to see what they do and whether they give a good overall expression of the comic from the get go or not.

There is something in epic poetry calledIn medias res

where you start in the middle of the action, might be worth considering too.

In this particular case, if you could inject humor at the end either through action or dialogue, it would probably help to offset the seriousness and give more balance if that is what you are after.


I’ve been working with computer based training for over eight years. We use a similar method when we create our storyboard and “chunk” our content. There is a similar process in comics and video creation.

My best advice to to finish out your story first - get it at least 90% done. Once you’ve worked out the plot and character interactions the remaining details can typically be worked out. I can tell you that working on a story that is not finished can cause a great deal of rework - and that gets tiresome to the developers.

One thing you will have a fun time with is adding interesting incidents into the characters past. It can be odd if there is a particular lesson they learned way back when that doesn’t manifest in your story as it should have. Avitar goes back to show things many times, and usually keeps the flow proper. Just something to think of.



Would you please describe the “chunk” process? I’m curious to know more. For further details on my story, it begins when the character is 11, and in each episode he gets older and older. I have written summaries for 8 eps (the entirety of the series) and have written out the 1st episode.


Chunking is breaking or dividing the content into logical sections. In a story, you must consider your page layout for this process since this is a web comic. In developing Web Based Training, my ‘pages’ all have the same size: 1014X658, though the time for each page depends on how long it takes to convey (speak) the point. That may not help you much with your story.

You have ceratin points in your character’s life that you will focus on. Each of these could be chapters. In each chapter you’ll have a sequence of events that will lead to the conclusion of that particular chapter (though not end the story). Each part of the chapter needs to not only be in the correct sequence, but ‘broken’ into the frames for your comic. So we have broken the overall story into chapters, and chunked each chapter into frames. I’d bet you have a better idea about how to break your story into frames. It primarily needs to have good flow.

I use Flash to develop most of my work, but 3D Max and Captivate all use a similar development: Slides or frames. Another way to describe the ‘chunking’ process is that it’s almost like taking a reel of film from a movie and laying it out flat. You can’t use every frame, so you’ll pick a small portion of them.

In creating your story, you may find (like me) that you have something interesting to work on that will occur way on down in the character’s life (like when he’s 15 or 22). But here you are working on him at age 11! Go ahead and work with that new idea. You should try to at least get the basic concept down. I recently was reworking part of a story and could not remember how a particular scene went when I first came up with it. That’s a bit frustrating.

I hope that helps - if not, write back :slight_smile:



Thank you for the explanation! :smiley: I think that’s a good workflow because it helps one work in a non-linear manner. I actually have the first episode fully written, I just have to start the storyboard process, and determine whether or not people will want to read it because of the time commitment involved o_0. I plan on my comics being 24-32 pages in length apiece.


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