How to get better at writing comics?

Think your comic can improve? Whether it's art or writing, composition or colouring, feel free to ask here! Critique and commentary welcome.

How to get better at writing comics?

Postby Princess on Sun Nov 27, 2005 1:52 pm

It seems like there are loads and loads of advice on how to draw comics but I really want some tips on how to improve my writing?

Any ideas?
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Postby Reinder on Sun Nov 27, 2005 2:14 pm

Revise. Visualise. Revise more.
Consider the number of actions in your episode and divide them equally among panels. Multiple actions a panel can be pulled off succesfully but they're a pain to draw so avoid writing them until you're sure what you're doing.
Write down all funny or interesting things you say or hear.
Turn your idea around: change the point of view, invert the entire situation, allow your idea to clash with another idea, or with reality.

Just a few tips I use while writing myself or giving workshops.
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Postby Ryuko on Sun Nov 27, 2005 2:16 pm

You could have a beta reader look at your stuff.
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Postby Dutch! on Sun Nov 27, 2005 3:19 pm

One word, eight letters.

Starts with 'P'

Ends with 'ractice'.

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Postby Zhen Dil Oloth on Sun Nov 27, 2005 4:00 pm

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Re: How to get better at writing comics?

Postby RemusShepherd on Sun Nov 27, 2005 7:26 pm

princess wrote:It seems like there are loads and loads of advice on how to draw comics but I really want some tips on how to improve my writing?
Any ideas?

I'm a writer first and an artist second. What did you want to know?

I've noticed that whenever I ask myself 'How can I improve', I end up re-phrasing the question as 'What can't I do yet'. So turn that around. Look for something you can't, don't, or haven't done, and try doing it. Characterization, character growth, humor, drama, horror, stream of consciousness abstraction, etc.

Improving is easy -- practice. The hard part is finding out where you need to improve. :)
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Postby JexKerome on Sun Nov 27, 2005 7:35 pm

Revise. I read and re-read the actions and motivations behind those actions, and read and re-read out loud the dialogues, to try and make them sound more natural (when they are not supposed to be pompous or cheesy, anyway).
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Postby Yeahduff on Mon Nov 28, 2005 1:00 am

Check out Elements of Style by Strunk and White.

Other than that:

1 Establish your characters and have them drive the plot by their choices.

2 Keep it simple and concise.
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Postby Joel Fagin on Mon Nov 28, 2005 1:06 am

Take a creative writing course. Same principles.

- Joel Fagin
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Postby LibertyCabbage on Mon Nov 28, 2005 6:20 am

read + write =O lame advice, sorry =S

and for TD, try to make the characters more unique ... they all seem the same =/ although i like it a lot anyway ... you just need to update more =S
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Postby Oualawouzou on Mon Nov 28, 2005 6:25 am

JexKerome wrote:Revise. I read and re-read the actions and motivations behind those actions, and read and re-read out loud the dialogues, to try and make them sound more natural (when they are not supposed to be pompous or cheesy, anyway).


There's just one danger with this though: things that make sense to you, who (ideally) knows all about the characters, where they're coming from and where they're going, might sound or "feel" totally wrong to someone who doesn't have this information handy. You can use this to create an effect (in the same way that some movies start with a given event that has the audience go "uh?!", then goes back to explain the reality behind the event later in the movie), but it's also easy to get carried away and end up forgetting to "justify" something. That makes for a frustrating read.

IMHO, having a "cast" or "story" page that gives out vital information necessary to understand the comic isn't an excuse for not working this information into the comic itself. Such pages are nice for additionnal info but they shouldn't be a required read. The example of this I have on my mind is about a movie: the latest Harry Potter one. [SPOILER ALERT] I haven't read the book and came out of the viewing somewhat frustrated. So many things didn't make sense! What's the deal with the big demon face in the sky? What's the deal with the ghosts at the end? Why would they risk drowning non-champion students in the second task (presumably without their consent too!)? What's the deal with Igor? Why is Bartonius (if I recall the name right) so distraught when Mad-Eye Moody interrupts his chat with Harry? (ETA: forgot one "uh?" moment that hasn't been explained to me yet, I'll have to ask a friend tonight: what's with the ceiling with Mad-Eye Moody enters the hall?) These were all things that made sense to people who knew the backstory behind what was actually seen, but it left all the other people out in the cold.
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Postby JexKerome on Mon Nov 28, 2005 6:47 am

Oualawouzou wrote:
JexKerome wrote:Revise. I read and re-read the actions and motivations behind those actions, and read and re-read out loud the dialogues, to try and make them sound more natural (when they are not supposed to be pompous or cheesy, anyway).


There's just one danger with this though: things that make sense to you, who (ideally) knows all about the characters, where they're coming from and where they're going, might sound or "feel" totally wrong to someone who doesn't have this information handy. You can use this to create an effect (in the same way that some movies start with a given event that has the audience go "uh?!", then goes back to explain the reality behind the event later in the movie), but it's also easy to get carried away and end up forgetting to "justify" something. That makes for a frustrating read.

IMHO, having a "cast" or "story" page that gives out vital information necessary to understand the comic isn't an excuse for not working this information into the comic itself. Such pages are nice for additionnal info but they shouldn't be a required read. The example of this I have on my mind is about a movie: the latest Harry Potter one. [SPOILER ALERT] I haven't read the book and came out of the viewing somewhat frustrated. So many things didn't make sense! What's the deal with the big demon face in the sky? What's the deal with the ghosts at the end? Why would they risk drowning non-champion students in the second task (presumably without their consent too!)? What's the deal with Igor? Why is Bartonius (if I recall the name right) so distraught when Mad-Eye Moody interrupts his chat with Harry? (ETA: forgot one "uh?" moment that hasn't been explained to me yet, I'll have to ask a friend tonight: what's with the ceiling with Mad-Eye Moody enters the hall?) These were all things that made sense to people who knew the backstory behind what was actually seen, but it left all the other people out in the cold.


Man, but some people don't understand what they read. By "natural" I mean the way people really talk, as opposed to the grandstanding, one-liners and cliches that pass off as dialogue in superhero comics, for instance.

Example:

Real life-

Chara #1: hey!
Chara #2: hey...

Sinfest-

Chara #1: Hey, dawg...
Chara #2: Heeeyyy...

Super hero Comics-

Chara #1: Greetings
Chara #2: Ah, Cosmic Avenger X, how glad I am to lay my eyes upon you...

Get it now?

Of course, there IS a danger of writing dialogue where you're forgetting to put in some vital information, but that also becomes apparent by reading and re-reading. Plus, I really hate wordy comics, so if I really NEED to explain something out, I try to show it, rather than tell it, eventually. And then there are things I most definitely do not want the readers from ever knowing about, and then yes, the characters speak of it and work around while leaving the reader totally in the dark, and it's totally on purpose.
Faith is what credulity becomes when it finally achieves escape velocity from the constraints of terrestrial discourse- reasonableness, internal coherence, civility, and candor. Thus, the men who commited the atrocities of September 11 were neither cowards nor lunatics of any sort, but Men of Faith- perfect faith- and this, it must finally be acknowleged, is a terrible thing to be.
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Postby Oualawouzou on Mon Nov 28, 2005 7:03 am

My response was more about this part of your first answer:
I read and re-read the actions and motivations behind those actions


I don't think "writing" is limited to "which words to use".

Thank you for so accurately evaluating my reading skills. I am in awe.
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Postby TheSuburbanLetdown on Mon Nov 28, 2005 7:03 am

Another thing to do is read many different types of comics and see what other comickers do.
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Postby Kris X on Mon Nov 28, 2005 7:31 am

Joel Fagin wrote:Take a creative writing course. Same principles.

- Joel Fagin


Not always. In fact, Creative writing courses can sometimes chew you up, depending on your genre of comic. If you have a more developed plotline that extends out, you might find it useful, but if it's a gag-line comic--I personally suggest working with an improv group.
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Postby Jigglyman on Mon Nov 28, 2005 2:55 pm

Use your characters. I cannot stress this enough. Write conflict based on your characters' different personalities. If you do this right, it is more funny then writing jokes and putting your characters in the places.

Be original. Do not break the fourth wall. Come up with ideas few people have used before. Find some small, esoteric object in your room and think of a joke or two involving it. How can you use emotions to create humor - greed, joy, anger, sadness, love, lust (woo hoo!)? How can you use different settings as jokes? Beware of visual humor. When done well, it's awesome, otherwise, save it for the animators.

Those are the two most important writing ideas I've learned in my year's experience. Use them wisely.

Also: going to bed is the best time to come up with ideas, because you have nothing else to do.[/b]
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Postby Princess on Mon Nov 28, 2005 3:18 pm

Jigglyman wrote:Use your characters. I cannot stress this enough. Write conflict based on your characters' different personalities. If you do this right, it is more funny then writing jokes and putting your characters in the places.

Be original. Do not break the fourth wall. Come up with ideas few people have used before. Find some small, esoteric object in your room and think of a joke or two involving it. How can you use emotions to create humor - greed, joy, anger, sadness, love, lust (woo hoo!)? How can you use different settings as jokes? Beware of visual humor. When done well, it's awesome, otherwise, save it for the animators.

Those are the two most important writing ideas I've learned in my year's experience. Use them wisely.

Also: going to bed is the best time to come up with ideas, because you have nothing else to do.[/b]


thanks :D that's my favourite advice so far
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Postby Alschroeder on Tue Nov 29, 2005 11:58 am

Dialogue: read it aloud. You'd be amazed how much it will save you from awkward sentences and interjections.
Plotting: read a lot.
A LOT.
A wide knowledge of both other fiction and nonfiction naturally leads to ideas, techniques, etc.
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Postby Chibiartstudios on Tue Nov 29, 2005 4:25 pm

Destroy all of mankind!

When the competition is dead you become the best by default.
Help me live my childhood dream of becoming the head of an evil corrupt corporate conglomorate:
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Postby Sput on Tue Nov 29, 2005 11:39 pm

chibiartstudios wrote:Destroy all of mankind!

When the competition is dead you become the best by default.


i second this! >:D
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