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  1. #1
    Senior Willow's Avatar
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    Beginner's guide to comic writing

    I wasn't entirely sure where to put this because you know, on one hand it's an art and drawing thing but at the same time it's written. Quite a bit of writing actually goes into comics. And that's how I chose to put this thread here.

    But enough about that.

    For months, maybe even years, I've wanted to try my hand at writing and also drawing my own comics. Preferably not strips but actual full length stories with compelling plots and characters and the works. I have a very simple plot and at least one or two, maybe three characters thought out that I might use in it. The only problem? I lack the motivation to see it through. I've done a bit of writing in the past, but I never really went anywhere special with any of them.

    So I guess the question I should be asking now is, where do you even begin? Like before you ever start putting lines down on a paper, do you write out the entire story and then draw it. Or do you write it out in pieces and then stick them all together?

    I might put up more questions later but these were the only ones I could think of for right now. And if you have any good resources or hosting sites, that would good too. If anything else it may just wind up on Tumblr but I don't want to have to do that.

  2. #2
    Senior TealMoon's Avatar
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    I've used SmackJeeves for hosting. It's pretty good, layout's nice and it's free.
    Though there are pay features.

  3. #3
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    You could just put comic pages in their own folder in one of your art galleries, or something. Or that's what I would do.
    Resident Koopa Trash

  4. #4
    Premium User FishNChips's Avatar

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    Typically comics are written in a way that's not wholly unlike movie screenplays. I'd look at those if I were you, and see how you can adapt that format into writing for a comic.

    There's also a book called Understanding Comics that you should read. I have a copy, and it's very insightful.

  5. #5
    Senior Ruggy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gibby View Post
    Typically comics are written in a way that's not wholly unlike movie screenplays. I'd look at those if I were you, and see how you can adapt that format into writing for a comic.

    There's also a book called Understanding Comics that you should read. I have a copy, and it's very insightful.
    Making Comics, also by Scott McCloud, is also full of a lot of helpful technical information. It's less about the ideas behind comics, but goes into panel layout, character design, conveying a scene with body language/expressions, &etc. I haven't read Reinventing Comics, his other book, but both Making Comics and Understanding Comics are great reads.

    As far as scripts, when I write mine, I write down any information I'll need to draw it. Not just dialogue, but anything necessary to that particular panel: facial expression, body language, character interaction, if it requires a different POV than normal, that kind of thing. It is a lot less formal and probably more vague than it would be if I were going to be sending it to someone else to draw, and 'who is drawing this and will they know what i mean / will i remember what i meant if i'm drawing it' is something good to think about as you read through what you've written.

    I find it much faster to work with a word processor than thumbnails initially, and much easier to actually to get into the flow of a story too.

    ... Says someone with no comics online to show, hurr. Take my thoughts with a grain of salt. I get stuck in 'make this part suck less, oh wait dammit it all sucks, rewrite' land all too easily. I've done a few 2-3 page comics before, but they're in storage somewhere.

    After I finish the requests I'm working on, I think I'll write some short vignette comics and see if I can actually see them through to the end. :I
    Formerly gorgonops. I do art-type stuff.

  6. #6
    Regular certifiedkowaidad's Avatar
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    Good stories are planned out from start-to-finish before the first page goes out. Unless you're doing a one-off gag-a-day strip, be careful of doing what webcomics tend to, which is to start with an idea and keep producing off-the-cuff until you've exhausted your will to write. So many of my favorite comics died with a whimper because of that, without any conclusion or development you'd expect.

    Write down your thoughts and goals and sketch out some loose ideas, try storyboarding a few scenarios, keep it simple. Good story-driven comics are so much harder than just writing or drawing; I was amazed at the little details I never had to consider in a short story. It takes practice to learn panel transitions, pacing, all the things that make a comic a "comic" and not just an illustrated novel. You essentially need to learn to tell a story through still photographs of the action, and so dialogue can be extremely important. You also need to balance visually "showing" the action with "telling" with dialogue and narration.

    So if making long, nuanced, character-driven stories appeals to you, maybe think about some small stories first, something you know you can stick to finishing. Maybe six or eight pages as an experiment. Introduce the characters, explore a brief conflict, and close it succinctly. It sounds like you've got ideas and you're trying to find a way to stick them together; one thing I do is keep a "parking lot" of ideas and scenes and characters I can revisit later so I don't feel obligated to force them in the story. Unless you're lucky or very clever, writing a story piecemeal gives you a disjointed mess. Remember that every character, scene, panel, and line needs to serve a purpose in the greater whole of the work, and you should be able to name that purpose explicitly.

    I don't draw personally, but I've written and storyboarded before with people who do, and I spend 90% of my time brainstorming, reviewing, and deleting words on paper. Most thoughts don't pan out and I know if I go forward and storyboard them I'm going to disappoint myself. A lot of artists just put pen to paper and immediately sketch and ink and publish their ideas; they might be doing themselves an injustice by doing so.

  7. #7
    Premium User FishNChips's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by gorgonops View Post
    Making Comics, also by Scott McCloud, is also full of a lot of helpful technical information. It's less about the ideas behind comics, but goes into panel layout, character design, conveying a scene with body language/expressions, &etc.
    I'd have to look at this! I found Understanding Comics really helpful for the theoretical/philosophical side of it, but many questions have still went unanswered for me so that book could do me some good.

    I wasn't aware that he did other books aside from that one, actually. I was in Waterstones one day and remembered the book being recommended highly by somebody else, so I just went and bought it on something of a whim. I'll have to take a look at the others. :>

  8. #8
    Rattlesnake Flavored RedSavage's Avatar
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    What needs to be honed on is that the largest difference between writing and writing for a comic is that the comic needs to be presented in a series of scenes. Whereas writing can afford to stay in the same sense of frame within an entire chapter.

    So first, Id say create a detailed out line or plot synopsis. One that encompasses dverything. Think a bland wiki summary with spoilers.then once you've done that, THEN write yiur script. Scriots follow a very strict sense of formatting, especially if you're going to attempt to write descriptions of certain panels. Organization is key. It will be the finite thing you, the artist, will be falling back on during the process of drawing.

    Of course, it really is just what works. But any and all issues I usually came across in script writing is getting too into certain scenes ajd lengths of dialogue. One must show just as much as being said. Thus, an overall arching outline or summary is usually what helps me keep focus to the essential plot line. And remember-excess is NO good in any story.

 

 

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