kreativedragon asked: I'm a novelist by nature, but after following you and your wife for a while now I have been deeply inspired. So... Do you have any advice on where/how to learn to write comic books? It seems like a foreign format to me, and I'm sort of scared.
well… there’s no Right Way, there’s no One Way, there’s no rules. There’s just what works for you to best communicate to your artist. Nobody but they will read your script, remember. So writing with someone in mind is a huge asset.
It’s all just choices. Boxes and boxes and boxes and boxes. Moment, Frame, Image, Flow, Word. Beats, Actions, Subjects, Scenes, Aspects, Imagery. Why does Box A work beside Box B? What do boxes A-F mean for Box Zero, the page itself? What about this page and the next? And the next? And a hundred pages from now?
Here’s an exercise: find a comic you love, find a comic you hate, find a comic you are utterly bored by. Sit with them open beside you. Write a script backwards out of it. What words do you have to put on a page to communicate what, say, Frank Miller communicated to David Mazzuchelli to get whatever panel of BATMAN YEAR ONE on the page? Write a script out of a finished book you love.
Then out of the one you hate. What does it teach you? Do you feel sympathy, empathy? Do you feel superior, do you feel angry? Write it well. Write it as best you can. Where these choices made or were they arbitrary.
Find the boring one. Why did it bore you? Can you write the script so it’s exciting? Watch this — add exclamation points after every sentence! The tone changes — completely! It’s almost a trick! It’s obscene and unfair! And yet there you go! What if you go back to the script you hated… and replaced all the periods with exclamation points?!? I bet the script reads totally different!
Write them all as long as you need to; maybe try using every word you can. Don’t worry about how long your manuscript gets, just go, make sure you’ve covered ever option.
Now maybe use as FEW as possible. What Would Cormac McCarthy do? What Would Amy Hempel do?
Now just make it a list. Like you’re shopping.
And then maybe try just playing with making your own stuff up. the paper’s not precious — write long, write short, just write. Write for an artist that’s smarter and better than you, that’s the real secret. The rest is just hard work and practice and thought and choice.