Writer's Mind

Learning a New Format

Writing for a comic book is unlike anything I’ve ever done before. You can’t just slap words onto a page like you would a short story or novel. It requires an entire different school of thought, just like writing for a game.

It’s as if you’re watching the story through a strobe light. It’s like catching frozen actions sequences, or still images for conversation. I have to throw way the idea of a smoothed continuous action scene and break it down into simple pieces bearing in mind how much can be show in one scene. Here’s an example. On the left is a simple action scene written normally, on the right is it in comic book form.

As you can see it’s a bit different. Of course every comic book writer has their own way of doing things, but the format is all the same. Page number, then panel 1 – to however many you think you need. You also have to keep in mind what is being shown and how much room you’ll need.

In my case I tell you how many panels are going to be on the page. Give you a basic size and then describe the scene. Again I’m transforming my thoughts into still images so I can better describe them from my artist. At the end I try to image the entire page layout to see if the panels will work. Even though I might go, “Yeah that works.” My artist might not agree so some panels might be changed.

Also I’ve learned that the average length for a comic book is 22 pages. The minimum amount of panels is about 2 in the case of a large action scene. The max is about 9 panels depending on whether it’s just head shots or simple talking. Sometimes it seems limiting for storytelling and near impossible to write. Yet I found that instead of bombarding everyone with three pages of details just to describe a scene in a novel, I can share it with you in three panels.

Well, truth be told it is a little over whelming but I am having a blast! I hope you look forward to my next installment. I sure know I am.

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