Making Comics: Writing Scripts People Actually Want to Read

19th Mar 2021

Making Comics: Writing Scripts People Actually Want to Read

Making Comics: Writing Scripts People Actually Want to Read

19th Mar 2021

One of the most challenging aspects of writing comics is producing a script that people actually want to read. This isn’t just a challenge for just comic book writers; every writer must produce a worthwhile script if they’re going to be read.

All great scripts start with an idea, an image, or some inkling of a story concept. Like a spider’s web, you will add more parts of your story until you have an entire working script. As you write, remember that exciting characters can carry a tepid plot, you should maintain balance in your narrative, and stop talking about it and start writing it.

What’s the Story About?

As a visual storyteller, you should be able to identify your plot’s main points, and they should be straightforward and compelling. The best stories can be recounted by any reader shortly and simply.

As a test, create the elevator pitch for your comic book. If it’s too difficult to make a short blurb about your comic book, then you may want to trim some of the dead weight or  break your plot into two comic books or a trilogy.

What is the Story Actually About?

There are the surface plot points of your comic book, and then there’s what it’s really about. This hidden theme or motif is the essential aspect of your comic book script. A strong theme will resonate with readers in a more profound, meaningful way than superficial stories.

Here are some examples. Peter Pan is about an eternally young boy, but it’s also about love and loss and growing up. Maus is a graphic novel recounting a man’s experience in a concentration camp during the Holocaust. It is also about the strained relationship between son and father and the chasm between them.

As the writer and artist, if you can’t identify the significant theme, then you may need to think about what kind of story your comic book scripts are really telling.

Compelling Characters Carry the Weight

There are certain narratives and comic book scripts that are wholly carried by the protagonist. Most superhero comics are either a team of specially-abled humans or one vigilante, like Spider Man or Batman. Without these protagonists to carry the narrative’s weight, Marvel Comics wouldn’t be as popular as they are.

Give a lot of thought to the main characters while you’re creating your script. A little extra work in character creation can pay off in the long run. Like panel descriptions, storyboards, and other pre-work associated with creative writing, character development is a necessary piece of the finished product, even though your readers won’t even see some of these elements.

Keep Balance in Your Narrative

All great stories have essential balance in their plotlines. Some action, some still points, a bit of humor, and a whiff of romance are the recipe for an excellent story.

If there’s a lot of action in your story, you may want to add some quieter moments to balance out all the activity. If you spend a lot of time in a character’s head, you may want to add more setting descriptions. Comic book writing is the creation of sequential art, and visual details enhance the imagery.

Trim Everything You Don’t Need

Most great scripts are streamlined and fast-moving, which is usually the result of excessive editing. Editing is the key to exceptional writing, and all scripts should go through at least five edits before the artists or letterers take a look.

One of the most common sayings in creative writing workshops is Kill Your Darlings, which means you have to get rid of every excessive character, plot point, or scene change if it does not directly move your plot forward.

Many comic book creators copy and paste their trimmed text into a different document to make it feel less like losing excellent writing to the void. It may be a complex process, but cutting down your story to its bare essentials will make it leaner and more compelling.

Be Meticulous in the Details

If you’re passing your script off to an artist and letterer at the end of the editing process, you need to include all details in your script, including panel descriptions, captions, and exposition.

Use screenplay lingo to convey your script’s action and moods quickly, and it will make other collaborations on your script much more smooth. As you would in a screenplay, note if the scene is taking place during the day or night or in your setting’s interior or exterior.

Write From the Heart

The one thing that every great story has is heart. And to give your story heart, you have to write it from the deepest parts of yours.

There is no prescribed manner to give your story the authenticity that makes a plot great, but you can think hard about all the unique aspects of your tale, strengthening them.

One way to give your story depth is to look at your characters. Ask yourself if they are well-rounded or flat. A flat character is a cliché come to life. Their behavior is rarely contradictory.

If any of your characters fall under this category, you need to put some more thought into characterization. Similarly, think carefully about your story’s theme to make sure the message is clear and robust.

To make your script stand out to editors, you need to make their job more enjoyable. Reading comic book scripts isn’t always a fun undertaking; like any job, it can get downright tedious. If you spice up your scriptwriting by using more intrinsic script templates,  like this one from Fred van Lente, you will make it more appealing to your readers and would-be editors.

Keep Tension Taut

The gasoline that keeps the engine of your story going is tension. Without tension, all the forward motion is leached away, leaving your plot dead in the water.

To check that your story’s tension is still taut, think about what your main character wants and then put as many obstacles in their path as possible. Each of your story’s high points is when your character gets close but just misses their goal.

If your character doesn’t want anything, you don’t have much of a story. The more fervently they go after their dream, the more your reader will root for them. Show that fervency in your script.

Put Your Seat to the Seat

One of the most challenging aspects of the writing process is to stop talking about writing a comic book script and put pen and paper and write it. Staying motivated as a beginning comic book creator is very challenging.

Some writers put themselves under strict deadlines to stay motivated. Others use peer review, where they swap scripts with other writers, to keep themselves inspired. Whatever it takes, be it a magic writing hat or a particular time of day, find your groove that keeps your writing flowing.

comic book script

The Final Panel

To be successful in your comic book career, you need to have a great script. Like a delicious meal, a fantastic comic relies on the right recipe of elements. Instead of things like beef stock or potatoes, however, you need to balance the tension in your story with well-rounded characters and an even pace.

For a stunning outcome, work with a professional team of printing specialists, like those at Comix Well Spring. Our printing experts can help you every step of the way. Contact us to begin your fascinating creative journey.

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