The first step is going to be sitting down and actually working out a story first. Not scripting up individual strips, but rather the arc that they're going to follow, including beginning, middle, and end. This is something I've got to start doing for all of my storylines, because I have a real problem of starting out with a Bang! and ending with a ffft. Once upon a time, I could count on exuberance or creative momentum to carry me through, but after seven years, that just doesn't work any more. Now, I have to plan, or I'll stumble.
The past year I had a resolution (of sorts) to try to put up something every M-W-F, even if it was just a filler sketch, on the grounds that readership falls off without regular content. Unfortunately, this has had two unwanted side-effects:
1) Quality Slip.
There have been strips I put up that I just wasn't happy with, but had to have something up for tomorrow. There have also been some that were just retreads of earlier strips -- i.e., tracing or just lifting previous panels whole cloth and changing the dialog -- done to save precious time. Not so many that it was a real problem, but enough where I felt kinda cheesy about it.
2) An Archive Full of Filler!
When you read the 2005 strips in the archive, there are a LOT of interruptions -- that weren't there in the previous years. This isn't because there are fewer strips: it's because there's filler where there used to be blank spaces. I think this may be what's causing the comments I've received lately about the story seeming disjointed. When you read just the story parts, it's flowing along as well as it ever has -- but when you also include the stuff in-between, it gets a more start-stop-start-stop feeling than the earlier years.
So I'm beginning to wonder if maybe the "filler-or-bust" idea isn't quite such a good idea after all. Should I just draw the best strips I can, and if it's not up on Wednesday, send it up Thursday? (Or if it's not up on Thursday either, just put up a news item saying when it will be up?) Which is more important, a dependable schedule or a better strip?
What do you think?