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SO, HOW DO I WRITE A COMIC BOOK?



I don't know of any comic book fan who didn't want to try their hand at a script or create a new super-hero (or a sympathetic villain). And while starting the process is not as easy as it may appear, it's not terribly difficult if you have the desire, a working background of the medium and a modicum of writing and storytelling talent.


There's no way to condense everything you should know about starting a comic book script in one article, but the following are a few steps to get you pointed in the right direction if you're driven to enter the wonderfully creative world of illustrated fiction.


1) To start with, it really helps if you're a true fan--someone who has bought, read and collected comics of all genres. You should know your stuff--backgrounds of heroes and villains, origin stories, supporting characters and where their adventures have taken them through the years. Do your research and love what you're writing about. It really helps.


2) Be prepared to tell a good story. Writers in any field aren't just wordsmiths who know the proper punctuation and grammar (but make sure you do), but they're comfortable with and capable of telling an interesting story. You may have created a terrific new hero or villain, but if you don't place him in a viable story line that will grip the reader, you haven't closed the deal.


3) Write a detailed plot outline of the entire script. I'm not going to get into what it takes to sell your story to a publisher (maybe another day), but a busy editor won't spend much time on your idea if you don't give him a well-written and well-thought-out plot. That's the meat you need before you sit down with dessert.


4) Speaking of dessert, the next step gets you closer to the sweets. Break down your plot outline into a page-by-page working draft of what will become your script. How many pages? If you're interested in the anthology-type of horror comic, a rule of thumb is stick with 10 pages or less. The best guide is: Write until the story is finished. If you really know your subject matter and where you're going with your plot, you'll know when to wrap it up.


5) Now's the time for the completed, polished (proofread and double-checked) script. Break down each page of your full outline into individual panels, complete with dialogue and captions. This part of the process can be the most fun--putting words into the mouths of your characters and writing crisp, expository captions. Remember to ALWAYS write your captions in the present tense. Comics is a "now" medium. Keep it real; keep it happening.


Again, all this hinges on your writing skills and being able to string together several words without tripping over them.


And loving telling a good story with powerful action words. Have fun; that's the key.


Maybe I'll see you in the funny papers!


Thomas A. Tuna

Managing Editor

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