Simple Writing Advice
Submitted by AmericanGothic on February 20, 2007 - 22:18
It's been an interesting month over at the Comic Genesis Forums- people have been reviewing each other's comics. What's so interesting about that? Just how many bad comics there are, how many improving comics there are and how many comics really just need a good archive scrubbing.
I realized something -- your archive IS YOUR COMIC. If you neglect it and only focus on what you've done just this last quarter, you're doing a disservice to your readers and yourself.
The big thing I saw was bad writing. Lots of artistic talent out there but the stories wandered horribly, losing me as a reader. When there is four years of comic and no flow, makes for a bad comic. A little help from college creative writing classes fit the bill, so I copied some stuff from my notes and here they are:
- The most important things are the Character(who), the theme/idea/plot (What) and location (Where). As the story goes along, we will figure out When, Why (motivation) and How (action). In comics, we benefit from being about to draw location and action. A good artist will also be able to draw facial expression so we don't have to write descriptive. You can write your first drafts out as full stories for your benefit, but your last draft will be a script, much like a script for a tv show or movie.
- In a good story there are several things. The Hook (the first thing that grabs the attention of the reader), the problem (situation), backfill (back story), Complication (the situation get worse), Action-Reaction (what the hero does to try and fix it the first time), the â€œDark Momentâ€ (the most dire and dramatic moment right before the climax), the climax (everything builds up to this moment) and resolution (the ending that wraps all the lose ends up.)
- Once you have come up with a story, it's time to reverse engineer it and cut it into blocks so you know what to put where. The first thing you are going to ask yourself is how often do I want to update my comic? Will it be once a week (52 pages a year), twice a week (104 pages per year), three times a week (156 pages per year), five times a week (260 pages per year) or daily (365). How many panels will you have per page? A gag-a-day can have a single panel (like The Far Side) or three/four panels (like most Newspaper funnies-- Hagar the Horrible etc.) or will it be multiples according to the story like a manga or comic book?
- Once you know how often you are going to be updating, figure out how much story you want to cover in a year, then cut it down again into 12 months, then again into weeks. This will tell you how much you will be working on every week and help with pacing. Some stories are very quick paced such as action comics (lots of fighting), while others are more leisurely like romances (dialog between characters). If you have cut your story up and there is too much stuff to put into one week's worth of comics, then you may need to cut some things out.
- Think about what your reader might enjoy. Will your reader want to wait 12 months for a story to climax and resolve? Most story arcs take about two to four months depending on how often it updates. If you comic is an action comic and it takes 12 months for one story arc/chapter to finish, there might be something wrong. Organize, organize, organize. Plan, plan, plan. Think about what you like to read and apply what you like to what you plan to do.