Learning how to write a comic book can be a fun way to challenge yourself as a writer. Stephen King and Jodi Picoult are just a few of the many best selling writers who've tried their hand at creating comic books and discovered that this genre offers a unique appeal.
The Craft of Comic Book Writing
At first glance, comic books may seem like simple writing projects. They have lots of pictures, the audience tends to be mostly teens or young adults, and nobody is expecting serious literary fiction. However, writing something that gains a following on par with the Justice League or X-Men comics is no easy task. You can't realistically expect to dash off a best-selling comic book in a day or two, even if you've been reading comics for years.
Comic book writing is a unique form of freelance writing because it incorporates elements of several different genres.
- It needs to have a compelling plot, like a novel.
- It's heavy on dialogue, like a screenplay.
- A story needs to be told in very few words, like in a poem.
- Images and text must work together, as in advertising copy.
If you're interested in learning how to write a comic book, the best way to begin is to take the time to carefully reread some of your favorite comics. Take notes of what elements the writer uses to propel the story, what aspects of the dialogue make the characters seem authentic, and how the illustrations work with the text to create a fantasy world.
Tips for How to Write a Comic Book
Mastering the art of writing comic books takes time, but the task will be easier if you remember these helpful tips:
- Make a detailed outline to keep the project on track. A comic book must take place inside limited page constraints, so you need to know how to use each panel to your advantage. As a general rule of thumb, comic books are 21 and 30 pages in length with between four and six panels on most pages.
- Think of the comic book artist as your partner. You need to work to communicate your ideas clearly so you're both on the same page when it comes to the story. Although your reader cares about having a good story, the comic book artist is concerned with having clear instructions so he can create the images that help communicate the story.
- Read your dialogue out loud. It should sound natural and appropriate for the situation. If it's stiff or forced, your reader won't be compelled to finish the story.
- Keep it short and sweet. Remember that in a comic book, the words have to fit in a small space within each panel. You don't want any more dialogue than necessary.
- If you're trying to get your comic book published, follow the correct script format.
To learn more about how to write a comic book, LoveToKnow Freelance Writing suggests visiting the following helpful Web sites:
- Writing-World offers a look into the field of comic book writing.
- The Writing Show offers a podcast download of an interview with comic book writer Buddy Scalera, writer of Deadpool, Marvel Knights, and Marvel Millenial Visions comics.
- Read. Write. Think. has a fun interactive comic book creation tool that could be useful to people interested in teaching the principles of this writing style to elementary or junior high school students.