Hey there, friends. This is Jay guest-posting, and we're going to do something different today. We get accused so often on this blog of not being constructive, I've decided to go over the latest comic with an editor's helpful pen, fixing what needs be fixed. Let's begin!
Dialogue has three purposes. It should be believable, it should convey something about the situation at hand, and it should be interesting to read. These purposes are often at odds with each other - for example, dialogue that was completely true to life, with all the ums and uhs left in, would not be very interesting to read.
With any piece of writing, you should use the fewest possible words to get your point across. Here, the word 'and' is superfluous. Randall is using it to tell us something about the situation - that the speaker is concluding a speech, that she said more before this. But we already know this. We can infer it from other clues in the panel, so the word is unnecessary.
It's not a good idea to underestimate your audience. Generally, people can figure things out pretty well from the context.
The passive voice is weaker than the active. It is more exciting for the subject of a sentence to do something than for something to be done to the subject. This would be snappier as "if you elect me." This would be stronger in a real speech too, as an appeal to her voters. Voters elect people - elections don't just happen.
This is more weak dialogue. Would any candidate promise to fix only 'some' of the problems? Would anyone vote for her? Randall is not thinking about what he's writing, and the result is dialogue that is boring on a cursory reading and completely falls apart under a closer look.
... which makes me notice the "try to fix" immediately preceding that. Even though this is a school election, the girl presumably wants to sound convincing. Maybe politicians should give speeches like this - "Uh, I'll try to fix the economy. No promises."
Italics are more distracting in handwritten text than in typed. You should only use them when you really need to emphasize a word. It's not necessary here - again, you shouldn't underestimate your audience. People are pretty used to talking and can usually tell what inflections a character is putting on a word without help.
This is petty, but Billy is such a cliche. I've never met someone who called himself Billy, but for some reason it's a stereotypical kid's name. If you think I'm reaching, watch for it, you can see it in other places. In this terrible strip for example.
Obviously this is a pet peeve.
Another unnecessary word.
"This is a school election" sounds better than "I'm running for class president."
The word political is unnecessary.
There are some writers who think that the exclamation point is an inherently weak punctuation mark, and that you should never use it. I don't agree - I think that because it's fallen into relative disuse, when someone does use it, it's jarring and lends emphasis to the sentence. But it doesn't work here. Why?
Most of the guy's dialogue ends with exclamation points. If it was just in the last panel, that would be OK. It would help deliver the punchline. But by the time we reach the last panel, we've become subconsciously dulled to it through overuse - it's not surprising anymore. We're not imagining anything he says with any particular emphasis. Notice how the girl's dialogue there takes center stage? There's a reason for that.
It's not that she's a girl that bothers me. I am fine with girls being shown as more intelligent than men, one-upping men in debates, whatever. It's that xkcd never depicts them in any other way. Can you imagine this comic if both of them were men? Or if their roles were reversed? Even the thought is bizarre. It's not how the world of xkcd works.
In the world of xkcd, men either act like women, or are inferior to them.
Despite what you may have heard, people's heads are attached to their bodies.
Just because you don't have recurring characters doesn't excuse your dialogue for being boring. This is utterly lifeless, substituting vanilla quirkiness for personality. These characters are not people, they are stage props with the single purpose of delivering the joke.
For an example of Randall doing this right, see this comic. He almost never does this right.
And then the dialogue in the last panel:
Not only is this not how people talk, it doesn't communicate the joke effectively. It does not flow from the rest of the comic - is the joke that he learned about politics from an inappropriate source (the internet), or that he was unprepared to give more than one reply (as people often are on the internet)? Both, apparently.
T-shirt money is not good motivation to make a comic. Without usable, honest feedback you cannot evolve creatively. Filler is never OK, especially if every comic is filler. It is insulting and a waste of the reader's time. Everything about this comic is wrong. This comic is a waste of your time.
Here's the revised comic, with my edits and Carl's punchline.
And here's what I think about the punchline.
Thanks for reading yo.