Monday, July 14, 2014

Writing Comics - Documentation Orientation

I think I got too excited last week.

Writing comics is all about original ideas, but that’s a given right? How do we actually write comics? Unfortunately, writing comics is a challenging enterprise, especially if you are doing it by yourself without an editor. I like to organize my thoughts, get them down on paper. This will come in handy later, once you’re in the thick of it, twenty issues deep, forty characters and expanding.

There are a few documents you’ll need to start up in MS Word or Open Office:

Plot outline – It’s always good to know where your story is going, even if you are still up in the air on who will betray who or who will die in the third act. The plot outline is an ongoing draft that you will be constantly be updating, so don’t feel like you are committed to the arcs that you laid out at the story’s conception. In fact, stressing the adherence to previous plots will crush your creativity, so treat your layouts gingerly, like guidelines. Generally, I structure my plot outlines with scant details and fill in the blanks. I set up what I want to happen at the time, the little things first. Where will the characters go? What cameos will come up? The big reveals and plot details come up as you write—they will come. So it’s better not to worry about the big things. My plot outline for my upcoming graphic novel is very short, and I hardly refer to it anymore. I don’t need to, because I feel inspired and trudge on despite not having a road map. Though I still keep track of who met who in act 2. That will happen. Getting there though is the fun part, and I ty not to cheapen it.

Character Manifest – Who is in your book/comic? How many characters do you have? I have at least 35, and I’ve only written up to 5 issues.

This is a document that acts like your own personal Wikipedia page. It’s a massive reference to every character you make. In my manifest I have the name, physical description, and origin all available to my artist for reference. This allows your scripts to be much less heavy on character descriptions. Use the manifest as something to refer to in this respect. It’s far more efficient.

Be sure, as well, to include other details other than just characters. I mine I have a catalogue of regions and factions, as well as capital cities and deities. I do this so that in the coming years, after working on this comic for so long, I can use ctrl+F to simply locate any one of my many characters.

Before I go I need to mention a couple junk box drawer items to consider:

Physics manifest – If your comic takes place on another planet, keep in mind that the regular work week doesn’t exist. You’ll have to create your own. The same goes for seasons and time measurement. A character can’t say, “wait a sec’” because a second is a measure of time and the phrase is colloquial to our particular means of keeping track of passing time.

Creature manifest – This is like a creature manual for all you D&D fans out there. Also a must for all fantasy comics, keep in mind that the creatures we know of do not exist in our fantasy world. Therefore, you must create them, catalogue them, and describe them. I actually enjoy this step a lot, because I can get really creative and find cool ways to work these creatures into the story.

That’s all I got for now. Check back in next Monday for more info in my series. Leave a comment too if you feel so inclined!




SW

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