Where “booking” in this context would be in the sense you might use it in, say, professional wrestling, i.e. “laying out in advance the general storyline…to include what the eventual outcome will be.”

Trundling further along that comparison, there is the mystery component present in all manner of fiction. Whodunnit? How’dithappen? Etc. A writer tends to have these answers “booked” even though the particular event might have occurred far in the past of the story’s timeline, although just like in wrestling there might be wriggle room for happenstance and improvisation depending on the circumstances. Like the concept of Schrödinger’s cat, even the most defined backstory remains in a state of flux until observed by the audience. If the truth is the answers have been left more nebulous (like say, in the TV Show Lost) then things might morph. But at some point the reveal has to occur, the box has to be opened…

…and that’s the scariest part, I think.

When the writer or writers open up the proverbial box and say, “Ta-da! The butler did it!” or “He was dead the whole time!” or “The girl was actually a guy!” — that’s nerve-wracking, especially if your fiction has been leaning heavily on the answer. For several seasons Twin Peaks asked us “who killed Laura Palmer?” and the honest truth was even they didn’t know until a botched camera job captured a random production staffer in a shot and birthed the idea of Bob.

I like to think I have a more solid grasp on my boxed-up cats than that, but even if you have it all rigidly plotted from the start, what’s to stop your “Ta-da!” reveal from being met by your audience with disappointment? What if they had it all figured out before even you did? Does their satisfaction with being proven right outweigh their lack of surprise? On the other hand, changing things up for the sole purpose of surprising people can just lead to disastrous inconsistencies, which are their own kind of let-down. I personally come down on the side of staying the course in that situation, where even if the reveal is met with disgruntlement (or worse, yawns) at least I can console myself that I’ve had months (or even years) to think it all through. If you have a suddenly deceased or departed actor you have to scramble to write around, that’s one thing, but a webcomic doesn’t worry about such matters.

So anyhow, here I am this week, opening the Zeke box and showing at last the precise circumstances that led to his fatal accident. It doesn’t seem like it’s been weighing that much on people’s minds, though, so I’m not feeling a huge bite of nerves. But it’s always been an important piece of the puzzle to me so it’ll be interesting to see the reaction, if any, as it takes a final form.