There are many issues I wanted to write into the Domestic Violence Story Line that I didn't. I wanted to explore more elements of "Creating a Safety Plan" for example. (Guidelines for a woman/man who is planning on leaving their abusive spouse) The thing is, though, you can't write everything.
Just prior to the above two strips running, Maeve had initiated a plan for Tamara to begin bringing her personal documents to her to copy. She would then hold these documents for her until the time was right to leave. I had been thinking that I would pursue this aspect because it made sense for Maeve's character to take charge and it's an important issue for people in an abusive relationship to know.
Once Jake comes into the picture and sees Tamara with Maeve, this all had to change. Jake knows Maeve's personality and knows she'll have an influence on Tamara which is not something he would want. In my interview at Gillian's Place I had asked the Executive Director and the counsellor what would happen if someone confronted a spouse on an abused woman's behalf. They both looked at each and then at me and told me, "She'd pay for it later". I thought that was a pretty powerful comment and it was something I wanted to use within the story. Maeve's outburst in the above comic is true to character and that made it an even more compelling reason to work into this scenario. And . . . wanting to tear a strip off Jake is something I would have wanted to do. Letting Maeve rip into Jake made me feel good . . . at least for the moment.
The other aspect that comes into play by having Jake intercept the plans to carefully orchestrate Tamara's departure from the marriage, is the fact that Jake shows up at all. It's not written with explicitness but having Jake wandering around and looking for Tamara at her lunch hour suggests another character trait of the controlling spouse . . . keeping tabs or perhaps even stalking.
If I tried to incorporate every single element of my research, I think it would have been to the detriment of the story and it would have ended up sounding more like a technical handbook or something along those lines. So, some stuff had to go . . . even if it was something I would have liked to use.
Of course, once Maeve confronts Jake, it forced me to begin writing the story in a much quicker pace. Jake's reaction to Maeve would be to react to Tamara and that meant things had to start HAPPENING.
Tamara leaves Jake and goes to stay with Maeve. It's a short-lived respite as Tamara is wooed back to Jake with promises. My research told me that women generally leave their abuser about 8 times before they finally leave for good. I couldn't do this in the comic strip. It would have taken too long and it would have very, very quickly become repetitive. However, I felt I had to have Tamara go back to Jake at least once otherwise the story would have seemed too compact and fairy-tale-ish.
What you leave out is really as important as what you leave in. I didn't want the story to get bogged down and sluggish by explaining every detail. On the other hand, I needed to provide enough information for the reader to be able to read between the lines. When I'm writing a story line, I continually second-guess whether or not the unstated makes sense. For example . . . Is it plausible that Jake would put two and two together and assume that Tamara's absence meant she was with Maeve? (yes) Is it possible that he could find Maeve's house even though he didn't know where she lived? (yes . . . I don't have to explain how he ultimately does this . . . but it's not unrealistic to assume he can)
The nature of the comic strip . . . a quick 10 or 15 second read once a day . . . makes it imperative to give the reader something conclusive each day in order to be worthwhile. While an on-going story line can't resolve itself daily, there has to be two things that it does accomplish. One is that each strip give the reader a complete thought or idea. The second is that there needs to be a reason to entice the reader to come back the following day to see what happens next.