As the longtime creative director of Marvel Comics™ and one among the foremost iconic magazine creators of all time, Stan Lee (1922 – 2018) was the mastermind of a Marvel Universe filled with timeless characters and stories that still capture the imagination of latest generations of magazine fans.
At first, however, Lee lacked confidence in his writing. As he would later explain in his autobiography, he felt that comic books (and therefore, magazine writers) had a coffee status within the literary world. As a result, he used a pseudonym for a few of his earliest magazine work. He writes, “I wont to be embarrassed because i used to be just a comic-book writer while people were building bridges or happening to medical careers. then i started to realize: entertainment is one among the foremost important things in people’s lives. Without it, they could explode the deep end. I feel that if you are able to entertain people, you’re doing an honest thing.”
As we all know, Stan Lee’s comic books not only brought him (and the Marvel company) massive success—they also played an outsized role in elevating comics to a genre that’s well-respected and continuing to grow in popularity. If you’ve got been brooding about writing a comic book book and are unsure of the way to set about it, here are seven little tricks to stay in mind as you write.
Tip #1—Focus on story first, then layout second
Even though comic books are often best known for his or her imagery, as a rule of thumb, when writing a comic book book, you ought to first specialise in the story. Stan Lee puts it simply: “Comics are stories; they’re like novels or anything . therefore the very first thing you’ve got to try to to is become an honest storyteller.”
While we’re on the subject of storytelling, if you’re unsure which story you would like to inform , consider the very fact that a lot of comic books and graphic novels published in today’s market are retellings of older stories. This graphic novel retelling of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and this comic book-inspired version of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables are great examples. Even Stan Lee borrowed much of his storytelling from classic Greek and Roman myths, so do not be afraid to place a replacement spin on an old tale if you’re stuck on the story part.
Tip #2—Know the top and work backwardsThis same piece of recommendation holds true for writing any sort of story, whether it’s a brief story, novel or magazine . once you know your ending first—before putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) for the primary draft—you’ll be ready to write a more succinct storyline with fewer holes within the plot.
This doesn’t mean that you simply got to know every detail about how your story will end. It only means you ought to have a general idea of the main events which will happen at the top . you ought to know which character are going to be involved and therefore the overall character arcs for your major characters (particularly the protagonist).
This is especially important if you propose to write down a series of comics. Knowing what happens at the top will assist you divide the story correctly into segments and end each book on the proper quite cliffhanger (which we’ll discuss more in tip #4).
Tip #3—Outline completely before writingHere’s another tip you ought to follow within the writing process, no matter what sort of fiction you’re writing. Having an overview is one among the foremost important things (if not the foremost important thing) you’ll do before sitting right down to write your magazine . you do not got to know every detail at the start , but you ought to have a general idea of your setting, plot structure, major characters, their motivations, and their character arcs because the plot progresses.
If you’re stuck at this part, i like to recommend reading Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat! series. While he initially focuses on writing a screenplay, he offers invaluable advice on two different facets of outlining a story for any media. First, he provides a “beat sheet” that specialize in the 15 major “beats” that occur within all great movies/screenplays. you’ll essentially take these beats and fill them in together with your story’s unique details to possess a well-rounded plot outlined quickly. Second, he reviews the essential ten sorts of stories that encompass most plots. for instance , he breaks down the foremost popular sorts of stories into easily digestible, overarching themes. a couple of examples are:
Monster within the House (Alien, The Ring, etc.)
Dude with a drag (Die Hard, Open Water, etc.)
Rites of Passage (Napoleon Dynamite, Kramer vs. Kramer, etc.)
Buddy Love (When Harry Met Sally, Brokeback Mountain, etc.)
Fool Triumphant (Forrest Gump, Legally Blond, etc.)
Tip #4—For multiple issues, endways a cliffhanger
I touched on this briefly above, but this is often especially important during the outlining process if you’re creating a series of comic books. like any series—and particularly in comic books—ending each issue on a cliffhanger is important if you would like to stay your audience engaged within the overall story you’re writing.
In writing comics, it is vital to stay this in mind as you outline each issue. If you’re creating a series, you ought to outline the whole series before writing the primary magazine , and therefore the outline should be completed before any artwork is begun. Pay special attention to page numbering as you outline and determine cliffhanger cut-off points for every issue, as this may determine the extent of interest you’re ready to maintain together with your audience and whether they’ll want to get following issues (after reading the first).
There also are software programs available like Celtx, which incorporates a comic book book option for its script writing features. Using software to help with layout and page numbering during the outlining and writing processes helps extensively with this cliffhanger strategy.
Tip #5—Make sure your setting and characters are memorableSince comic books have limited room for extended exposition, having a memorable setting and unforgettable characters is vital . Stan Lee puts it like this: “To my way of thinking, whether it is a superhero movie or a romance or a comedy or whatever, the foremost important thing is you’ve to worry about the characters. you’ve to know the characters and you have need to have an interest . If the characters are interesting, you’re half-way home.”
When you remember over a number of the bestselling comic books and graphic novels (Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series and Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead series come to mind), you will find that two things all of them have in common are a singular , intriguing setting and interesting characters. Both drive the story when limited exposition and dialogue are necessary (such as in comic books) and both will ensure a comic’s success if crafted properly.
Tip #6—Notebooks and audio recorders are great for stealing dialogue you hear throughout the dayThis tip comes directly from Tony Max, indie magazine author and illustrator of The Golden Silence series. As a writer, he often catches conversations on audio recorders (with the permission of the speakers, of course) to urge a pity the cadence and word choice of everyday conversations between people. he’s then ready to listen back through and recreate a sensible dialogue in his comic books.
Since comic books rely heavily on dialogue to fill in details of the exposition, creating realistic dialogue should be attention while you’re writing. Often, panels do not have enough room to possess tons of dialogue either, therefore the dialogue you are doing include must be sharp, poignant, essential to the narrative, and realistic for the genre. consider it because the bones that hold the narrative framework together.
Tip #7—Phrase books help to seek out the proper wordsPhrase books are great resources for writers of all genres therein they will help spark the creative Muse when block sets in (and let’s face it, all writers experience block at some point or another). for instance , this book by USA Today bestselling author Jackson Dean Chase offers over 500 descriptions of “weapons, wounds, wild animals, weather, emotions, dangerous places, and more, plus a combat thesaurus that covers everything, from attack to defense, ranged to melee, and from monsters to magic spells and psychic powers.”
Whether your magazine is sci-fi, action and adventure, romance, fantasy, or somewhere in between, you will be ready to find phrase books offering a plethora of data on costume, weaponry, fighting techniques, survivalist tricks, technology, period-correct verbiage, naming strategies, and more. they’re really indispensable to any writer’s collection of source books and are especially useful in writing comics, where elements like worldbuilding and costume are essential for fulfillment .