How To Write A Comic Book Script and Other More Important Things

notecards for a comic script
A plethora of resources both online and offline will teach you exactly how to write a screenplay but good luck trying to learn how to write a comic book script.

Though comic writers who work for the big publishers typically format their comic book scripts similarly to screenplays, there is still no official industry standard.

And if you write your own independent comics—either webcomics or print—you have even more freedom with your script’s format. After all, you are the only one who ever has to use it.

Working with separate members of a team requires a tighter, more standardized approach if the writer’s intent is to be fully realized by the artists.

We’ll begin with a pseudo-standard approach to comic book script writing. Then we’ll share our own crazy approaches to give you an idea of how flexible this process can be.

And to show you what this looks like, we (Lora and Chris) provided samples of our comic scripts via the links below.

Our regular readers won’t be surprised to hear us say that there is no point in starting a comic script unless you have addressed these 5 things.

So if you are sure that you have a cast of compelling characters, a brilliant, surprising idea and a solid plan for the story you want to tell, read on…

Outlining Your Comic Script:

Do not start writing a script for your comic without a rock-solid outline.

A rock-solid outline includes a clear plan for the beginning, middle and end of your story.

To learn more about this, listen to Lora and I talk about The Ocean and Story Structure.

The most important parts of your outline are the arcs for your main and secondary characters. Those should be clearly mapped out. We recommend creating an emotion-graph for each character:

how-to-write-a-comic-book-script-chrisoatley-emotion-graph

An Emotion Graph can help you chart where your characters are, emotionally, at each point in the story. Keep the characters in motion emotionally and you’ll keep your readers engaged.

Be sure to include the timing of vital set-ups and pay-offs for both plot and character.

Regardless of whether you’re writing an individual issue of a ongoing, serialized comic like Spider-man, a stand-alone graphic novel, or a five-volume series, we recommend that you use a traditional three-act structure.

There are a bajillion books about three-act story structure but we recommend Save The Cat by Blake Snyder as a great, practical way to get started.

Three-act structure is versatile because it is flexible enough to scale to fit the length of whatever story you are writing.

You can apply three-act structure to an animated short, a trilogy of novels or an entire season of television. Even scenes within stories have three acts.

At least the good ones do.

Expect Change:

You will deviate from the outline during the writing process.

Every long road-trip needs a map so the driver doesn’t get lost along the way.  And the crafting of any script, any well told story is a long, long road-trip.

Sure, you might find some interesting stops and detours while you’re out there. You might even change your mind about your ultimate destination.

But if you are just wandering aimlessly without a plan, your passengers (readers) will eventually get tired, smelly, hungry and grumpy.  They’ll think twice before going on a road trip with you again.

Without a map there is no answer to, “Are we there yet?”

Good stories tell you when you have arrived at the destination. Don’t leave your passengers guessing about whether you’re getting close.

Stories with a point are like the signs along a highway counting down the miles until you’ve reached your destination. They give you a sense of scale and a growing anticipation that the end is nearing.

Suddenly all of those gross gas station bathrooms were worth it.

blake snyder beat sheet notecard

Fans of Blake Snyder can use his Save The Cat technique and create Beat Sheet notecards in a program called Scrivener. The cards can be moved around and reorganized as much as you want. And when you’re happy with your outline and are ready to start writing, each individual card expands to becomes its own scene.

When You’re Ready To Write The Script:

You have to decide which format you’re going to use.

Are you going to format your comic script in the pseudo-standard “big publisher” format we mentioned at the beginning of this article?

…or are you going to try something different?

Whatever you do, write more than one draft. Write as many drafts as you can before the writing deadline.

Remember: you can always make the story better.

Download Our Comic Script Samples:

I, Lora, use a pseudo-standard “big publisher” format with page and panel breakdowns and descriptions when I write The Dreamer.

Again, there is no absolute, standard script format like there is with screenplays. But if you want to see what my script for The Dreamer looks like: Download The Dreamer Script Sample Here

I, Chris, format my scripts more like a traditional screenplay. If you want to see what my script for Greg The Megabeaver’s Prehistoric Sideshow looks like: Download The Prehistoric Sideshow Script Sample

In both downloads, we included the actual comic pages which correspond to the script pages so you can look at them side-by-side.

Story First, Layout Second:

Because I, Chris, come from a film background, I’m more comfortable writing in screenplay format with the Final Draft screenplay software I’ve grown accustomed to over the years.

I, Lora, work similarly—one long script independent of pages or panels at first—using Scrivener instead of Final Draft.

Like a movie-style pipeline, we recommend you focus entirely on the script until it’s done. One thing that Hollywood has proven thousands of times over is that the final work almost always suffers if you begin “filming” the story before you have a solid, finished script.

There’s a rhythm and a pace to the standard screenplay format that gets interrupted if you start by thinking about your scripts in terms of panels and pages too soon.

The story should form your script and the script should form your pages and panels.

While writing the final draft of your script, begin planning your page and panel breakdowns before moving into the drawing phase.

If you are both writer and artist on your story, no matter how polished your final draft is, you will inevitably make a pass of “visual rewrites” while actually drawing the comic pages.

You always discover better ways to tell the story once pencil hits the blank page.

Our Processes:

Edit heavily as you go.

If you compare my Greg The Megabeaver’s Prehistoric Sideshow comic script to my comic pages, you’ll notice things that I changed in the drawing phase.

I liken this process to that of editing a film that I’ve already shot: I’ll change dialogue, pacing or even cut entire scenes while drawing. The scenes that were cut are then removed from the working version of the script for continuity purposes.

If you’re curious, in my script, the screenplay pages equal between two and four comic pages.

This makes sense to me.

This makes sense to me.

Or plan well, then execute quickly.

Lora approaches the first few drafts of her script in a similar way, but once she is happy with it, she breaks her scripts down into pages and individual panel descriptions.

Here’s what she had to say about the process she uses to write her comic scripts:

After have what feels like roughly 25 pages worth of content, with a beginning, middle and end, I go back in to find “cliffhanger moments” within the script that I wrote. I use these to determine my page breaks so that whole issue is a “page turner.”

I examine the pieces of dialogue and begin to group them into panels so that each panel is mini-story, each page is a small story, and each issue is a complete story.

What you see here is my final draft, and believe me, a lot of edits go into every script. I just make my edits in my Scrivener document, not on paper, so there’s no real way to show you.

There is a reason that I letter my own comic. It’s my last pass at the script. Even in this sample you’ll see that the final page has an extra “joke” in there that wasn’t in the original.

comic scripting using Scrivener

Scripting in Scrivener takes the overwhelm out of writing a graphic novel series. Organize your writings into collapsable folders for each volume, issue, and scene.

How About You?

Okay, so we’ve talked about the importance of outlining, three-act structure and the various format choices for writing your comic script.

But now it’s your turn to share!

How have you approached the writing of your own comic scripts and do you think you’ll stick with that or try something new?

Share in the comments below.

Everyone reading this will benefit from your insight.  So don’t be shy.

Recommended Reading:

Save The Cat by Blake Snyder

Invisible Ink by Brian McDonald

The Golden Theme by Brian McDonald

Elevate Your Visual Storytelling:

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Lora

Actually I write in a more loose “screenplay” style first as well too, Chris. After have what I think is 25 pages with my beginning, middle and where I want the story to end for that issue, I go back in and begin breaking it down by pages and panels. I try to find those “cliffhanger moments” for page breaks and figure out what pieces of dialogue belong in the same panel so each panel is mini-story, each page is a small story and each issue is a complete story.

What you see here is my final draft, and believe me, a lot of edits go into every script. I just make my edits in Pages, not on paper, so there’s no real way to show you that.

There is a reason that I letter my own comic. It’s my last pass at the script. Even in this sample you’ll see that the final page has an extra “joke” in there that wasn’t in the original.

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Jake Ekiss

Ha! We must have been on a wavelength here, both mentioning the page to page story and the cliffhanger page breaks. Great minds ;)

I tend to avoid full on “drafts” as it feels too much like a rewrite to me. That said, I tend to have a “rolling draft” process when I script. Every time I open the document (or begin a new page) to work I’ll reread either from the beginning of the issue or the most logical previous break point and do spot editing throughout the writing process. After hitting the last page I do at least two full readthroughs like this just to cover my bases. So while I never have a “draft1, draft2, draft3″ I still manage about the same amount of editing, just in a different order.

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Pronoy Dutta

He! I wanted to improve my script writing. Do you think it’s important or recommended to take a script writing class?
Some of these are expensive and if all it takes is a lot of writing sans guidance ( or with minimal guidance), I might not need to join up.

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Jake Ekiss

Having written for other artists, I’d say my style in terms of formatting is largely dictated by the artists I’m working with. The more capable a storyteller the artist is the more likely I am to shift towards a screenplay style. The less accomplished they are at story telling the more I’ll give panel breakdowns. I always do page breaks as in any printed comic these are absolutely CRUCIAL for reveals. The page turn is a mighty force for tension and you want to make sure it is preserved as much as possible. I also time scene changes this way, and try to make most large scene changes on page turns just like a standard reveal. It’s not always possible or necessary, but I think it very subtly sinks in with the reader as they go, “Every time the page turns, something happens or I go somewhere new.”

Beyond that I prefer to work without panel descriptions, instead giving a brief summary of the primary action of the page (each page should have it’s own narrative, beginning, middle and end) and list any secondary actions taking place (for talking head scenes this is usually to activate an otherwise stale scene action wise) and then list the dialog screenplay style with notations referring back to the initial summary for when action beats occur. The one thing that I would caution about working without at least page breaks is that it’s very easy to paint your artist (or yourself) into a corner with too much text in dialog heavy scenes. Keep in mind that the average comic page has about 500 characters of text, and the heavy dialog pages range up to 1000. Past that you are treading into Alan Moore territory (and you’re not Alan Moore, stop trying to be Alan Moore, no really, just stop) and the art is going to be further and further complicated by the wall of text. Usually some serious “kill your precious babies” editing will solve this, but it’s an easy hard and fast check to make sure you haven’t just tried to do straight prose in a comic book.

I’d recommend checking out some of Robert Kirkman’s script pages as many of them are reprinted in the various trade paperbacks of his work.

Aside from the 3 act structure I’d take it a step further and check out the “Hollywood formula” version of this. I’ve mentioned it here before but you can find out more about that here: http://www.writingexcuses.com/2011/10/02/writing-excuses-6-18-hollywood-formula/

I can’t tell you how much of a help that outline has been to me writing my current story. It’s really helped to crystallize what was at first a very sprawling, disconnected tale and turn it into a much tighter, more character driven story.

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Annamarie

Right now, I have to admit that I don’t have much of a process when it comes to writing scripts, which is something I’m really trying to work on. Since I’m just drawing the prologue of Everdusk right now, I think I’m also going to use this time to plot out the main storyline very, VERY thoroughly in an outline so I don’t get lost and have some sort of “home base” to make changes from. Having an emotional timeline is also an excellent idea, something I hadn’t really thought of–I think that should help me figure out where to insert more character-/emotion-based scenes.

One thing that I notice I have a problem with when I write anything is I just want to get all the information out there at once! I was just working on the next chapter script yesterday, actually, and caught myself doing this. I think having an outline will help this–by knowing when characters are introduced and certain events happen, I can more efficiently plot out when information is introduced to my readers in a (hopefully) sensical way.

However, even though I’m definitely trying to revise how I approach my script-writing, one thing that probably won’t change is how I envision the pages as I write. I definitely write first and then form the comic pages around what I write; I typically don’t attach words to panels until I start thumbnailing. I may make script changes from there to better fit flow and such, but nonetheless, my script is generally written without initial regard for panelling.

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Chris Oatley

That’s a real challenge – trying to resist doing a big “information dump” at the beginning. But all of the good “fantasy world” stories just drop the audience right into the story and they learn as they go. As long as you don’t alienate the audience, I think that’s the better choice.

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Sarah Schanze

I just write everything in Word. I learned about proper formatting in college but it always felt clunky to me, worrying that everything looked how it was supposed to, that I was using the right type of font or terms. Now I don’t worry about it, and the writing comes faster. Having a program like Final Draft might help, but I don’t have anything like that.

I have an overall outline that I’m still tweaking, divided into chapters or where I’d like the chapters to break. Then I just write out the chapters, divided into pages, and those pages divided into panels. I even tell myself which page is the right or left page, as if it’s printed, so I can add those mini-cliffhangers too and pace accordingly. I have a brief description of action or emotion for each panel, and any dialogue I just indent. I even change the font of dialogue to the one I use in my comic so I can easily read how a conversation goes.

It’s not at all conventional (I don’t even use that typewriter font), but it’s quick and fluid and it works for me. Sometimes pages still change even while I’m drawing them. Definitely one of the best parts of doing webcomics is writing and formatting and planning however you want. :D

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Chris Oatley

Yeah, I would only use a screenplay format if that’s already what you’re used to. I think Lora writes in Pages for the Mac. Joel, Zach and I have done a bunch of outlines in Google Docs.

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RobinofLeyLines

Before I dive into a new chapter I try to isolate the theme I’m exploring in it, as well as the major events. However, for the actual scripting, I never write more than a scene at a time.

The reason for this is that it keeps things fresh for me. When I first started trying to write comics in…uh…2000 (I think?) I tried to follow the “professional” standard. The result? By the time I finished the full story, I no longer wanted to draw it. It didn’t hold any surprises for me anymore.

I write by scene, but with the benefits of a very significant buffer (up to 3+ months of material). This means that if I discover something that needs changing, down the line, I still have a good window to fix it before it goes “live” online. Case in point:

http://leylinescomic.com/archive/c03p33-whats-wrong-little-guy/
On this page I originally had no dialog. 20 pages later, I realized I’d wasted an opportunity to characterize one of my villains. I was able to go back and change the scene before it ever hit the web.

This method has worked very well for me for several years, but the dangers are that it makes writer’s block even more excruciating. I can’t work ahead, or skip a section and come back. I am bound to figuring things out in a linear fashion. When the flow is good, it makes the process a grand adventure. When the flow stagnates…It’s like being stuck on a raft in the middle of the ocean.

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Chris Oatley

Robin, you might just try outlining in 25 page arcs. Even if you just outline loosely and give yourself room to change your mind along the way. You might find that you write more decisively. Just a thought…

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RobinofLeyLines

It’s definitely worth a try. When I first start a chapter and lay out my theme & timeline, it’s akin to an outline, but not as structured.

It’s easier when the character groups are smaller. Right now I’m juggling a cast of seven different characters, most of which are paired off in sets of two. Some of them I know really well, but others are fairly new to me and the readers. I’m running into the issue of “What to characterize NOW?” Do I find a way to show that my hardened assassin has a weak spot for kids, or highlight his cavalier attitude towards conflict due to his POW experiences? Can I do both? SHOULD I do both? What might fit in better in a different setting?

Having written this out, I think I need to re-focus on the themes I set out for this chapter at the start, particularly as they relate to the MAIN cast. The order of events is less important than the progression of my main characters, yet I have lost track of that a bit in recent script drafts.

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Daz Awisreu

I have a master-outline divided into “chapters” with mini-outlines, and I fully write chapters/scenes as I’m in the mood to. Whenever I get around to fleshing out a scene, I’ll describe the setting first with any objects/persons that’ll be important to the scene or for foreshadowing. And then I’ll write out the dialogue only. I’ll act it out as I go along, revising it for different characters, adding in beats for pacing, making little mini-cliffhangers for the end of pages. I’ll just get all the dialogue down first, act it out over and over again, in front of a few people, get feedback, edit, edit, spellcheck, edit, and get a “final-ish” version.

Then I’ll decide what shots will fit with the dialogue, which character’s face I want to show, what angles to work with. I’ll make two or three thumbnails of possible panel placement and work with my favorite to make the final page. Sometimes seeing the character’s pose or facial expression helps me to come up with a better line, so, nothing is ever really final.

As far as my actual format goes, it doesn’t look anywhere as neat as the both of yours. A line or two describing the setting (if it has changed from the last page), dialogue with vague acting cues, and changes in shots marked with “//” on a separate line, haha.

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Chris Oatley

Daz, I often draw thumbnails and expressions right on my script. Or I do post-it sketches and stick those to the script.

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Leigh Fieldhouse

I have found that I focus on writing the script with the page/panel in my mind. It slows down the writing process down considerably as I have too much to concentrate on at once. It’s a habit as I’m always thinking about how to visually tell the story. I’m going to try and just get the story written down and then start to edit & figure out panels/page layout after.

I also think from reading finished comic scripts where it’s laid out in terms of “Panel 1, Panel 2 etc” I figured that’s how I have to write.

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Chris Oatley

I completely agree, Leigh. It’s amazing how much more flow I find when I resist thinking about the visuals for as long as possible.

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Sarah

I never used to bother with “scripting” until I started as an apprentice with Lora and saw how integral it was to plan for pacing and readability. She’s very conscious of the amount of action on each page, where each individual page is within a scene, and how to use the last panel of each page to pull into the next. I’m still not as calculating as her –– I think it’s second nature to her now, and I’m still getting the hang of it –– but it made a huge difference.

Before, I estimated that my book would be about 20 pages per chapter because I didn’t know how to pace properly… but when I started writing things out, I realized I had a lot of dead space and most of the chapters now average at a lean 14 pages. Crazy! I think if I didn’t figure that out, the story would really drag, and now it’ll take me much less time to complete it.

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Chris Oatley

Yes. Lora is a beast. She really is a master of the craft of visual storytelling.

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Scott Wiser

Inspiration conversation you have here! I have never written a script for comics or a graphic novel, though I have written scripts for theater and film (a treatment). I love the ideas listed here and I’ve been toying with a storybook idea which I may produce in the future. If so, I’ll definitely keep my process loose and incorporate some of these ideas. Thanks!

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Jules Rivera

When I write scripts, I break everything down piece by piece.

1. I use the outline to pace out my chapter and plot out the major points I want to cover (Note: this thing is fairly mutable and often changes in the next step).

2. I take each bullet point of the outline as a scene description and write out each scene in the chapter as a part of a whole to be pieced together later. They’ll fit into the script based on the pacing in the outline.

3. As I write each individual scene (which I often do out of order), I just plot out all the dialogue I want first before I stop to think about visuals or page count.

4. Once I’ve got dialogue I’m happy with, I begin going through the dialogue and establishing page breaks. Like Lora, I try to find the big “cliffhanger” moments for page breaks. I keep my eye out for key revelations in the scene or high tension moments like “You are a cylon!” or “Luke, I am your father!” In comedic scenes I keep my eyes out for snappy come backs between characters to end the page on a sort of “punchline”.

5. Finally, I begin to think of the visuals. I dice up the panels and add short panel descriptions to give me an idea of what the heck I’m going to draw when it comes to execute page. Lesser conversation can be thrown into one panel whereas big reveals or reaction shots are given their own panels. This is also the time to figure out establishing shots.

**My Golden rule of establishing shots: every time I change the location, the first or second panel of the page should be an establishing shot. Readers need to know where they are at all times.**

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Rachel Kimberly

You can’t believe how timely this post is for me! I’ve written both novels and screenplays before, but I’m just getting started on developing plans for my first webcomic, and I plan to start writing the script during Script Frenzy in April. I’m excited and nervous about it, but it’s good to know that Paper Wings has a bunch of folks who’ve been through it before… and succeeded. :)

I’m not exactly sure how I’ll approach the writing process this time. Since I’m familiar with screenplay formatting, I may lean toward doing it that way, though I’m sure I’ll experiment with different styles before I finally settle with one.

Right now I’m focusing more on character development and plot brainstorming. For some reason, even though I’ve successfully completed many stories, every time I start a new one, I feel like a total noob.

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Kristin "Krispy" Brumley

In response to signing up for your newsletter, I asked about script writing…and here it is, already. Amazing. It’s like you guys knew what I wanted in the future and made it for me in the past. Thanks!!!

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Atiya

Wow! I’ve been studying a lot about scripts and for some reason page numbers tend to mess me up, I’m not sure why.
But this really helped!
I never considered keeping notes of the characters emotions on paper, however; I have made an interesting “Emotion graph” of how I want the story to play and how I want the readers to react and/or enjoy the story. Except my “emotion graph” looks more like a heart rate monitor that hospitals use XD LOL

I jot down words I want my stories or chapters to define, like; action, adventure, drama, suspense, comedy, light romance, EPIC, genuine, etc. You know things like that. I use these words to help me keep constancy ( unless I want to deviate ).
I always go back to basics during my free time, so this really helped. :)

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Kurt Hathaway

As a long-time comics letterer for just about every publisher out there, I’ve seen thousands of comic scripts come across my desk. The good ones all have a few things in common….one is clarity. For this reason I wrote a Comics Format guide a few years back. It covers how to format panel description, various balloon styles, plus a chapter on common typos and mistakes. It doesn’t cover story, but covers how to format your story so editors can read it with maximum reaction. You may be surprised by how many sample scripts are unreadable…I know I was. The writer knows what’s going on, but he doesn’t put it on the page. Anyway, the PDF is absolutely free. Anyone who wants it can reach me at: khathawayart@gmail.com
Ask for the Comics Format Guide.

Kurt Hathaway
khathawayart@gmail.com

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Katenik Archer

All your posts are so helpful! I’m a new subscriber and have been chewing through articles and podcasts over the last couple weeks, and I feel like I’ve learned more about storytelling in these two weeks than I did in three and a half years in film school (didn’t have to take something useless to me like Sound for Film, either). I’ve looked around for a few different ways to write a comic script and had no idea what I’m doing. Chris and Lora, thank you so much for taking concepts vital to comic production and translating them to stuff I understand.

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Gizzle

I tend to draw the comic first and then figure out the scrip out after. Although I like doing things this way and find it more free and organic for me, I have noticed that it does mess with characterization. But this post has offered me some more insight into writing a comic script, beyond what had gleaned from watching other artists in livestreams :)

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Kevin Gentilcore

Usually I just start writing down ideas or story elements in a list, then I expand on those ideas, move stuff around and refine.

As far as writing the actual script, I’ve been using Celtx and their comic book script feature for years. I guess it breaks down more like a
“Big 2″ script when all is said and done. I break it down by page and panel plus add in descriptions for myself so I can remember what I was thinking when I go to thumbnail everything. Since it’s really only me looking at the script, as long as it makes sense to me it’s all good :).

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Adrien Lee

I know this is an old article but I find this subject really interesting because after reading this, I feel like I’m doing my scripting in a little bit of an unusual way. I’m not really experienced at all with screenplay formatting, only with novel-type prose. I find it really hard to visualize what’s going on if I write in screenplay format.

I usually do really big test sketches for each page (a sheet of 9″ x 13″ newsprint for two pages) and script right as I’m sketching. Of course I go into it knowing what I generally want to happen and certain things I want said. If I don’t like a panel I’ll put a blank post-it note over it and redraw from there. Sometimes I’ll tear off part of a page if I don’t feel like that half is working and tape a fresh bit of newsprint on and keep going from there. I’ll write in the gutters if I can’t write small enough for the balloon or if I think of a different phrasing later.

The benefit for me is that I get the composition down with the speech bubbles, and I can coordinate the characters’ expressions and their words right there and then. Plus the whole thing is disposable enough that if I need to rewrite anything, I just tear away the offending pages and draw again. The whole thing’s pretty ugly but it works for me well enough–any thoughts? Maybe disadvantages to doing it this way that I never thought of?

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Manny Tamarez

I did something similar but I didn’t like how when I had to change something I had to go and resketch it. But that’s probably because my initial script wasn’t good enough. I plan to have a more detailed script and then go into doodling the storyboard. If you don’t mind redrawing stuff over and if it works then stick to it.

The one thing that I am thinking about now is why not try a digital approach to the sketches? It might be easier to edit. I haven’t tried it yet but I’m going to and I think it will work.

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Mike Ruyle

Nice! I see potential here for helping me with my short film!

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Manny Tamarez

In The DC Guide To Writing Comics book by Dennis O’ Neil, I read that Archie Goodwin would sketch out on typing paper the panels of the story and then right his script on another piece of paper. Which would help him control pacing for both sides. I really liked that method and inspired my own method.

For my first full story, I wrote an outline for it using the three act structure. Then I would break down everything that happened into index cards and draw the panels on the back. I would number them and then on sheets of paper I would order them. Then do a storyboard with it.

Midway through it I had to change the process. So instead I would take printing paper and split it into nine boxes and do the same thing with that paper that I did with the index cards. The index cards were too small for me to see.

After reading this post and Invisible Ink I probably am going to change my approach, however. Going to go and spend more time on a script that’s more like a screenplay. Then do a storyboard similar to Archie. This way I can make changes to the story much easier as my main problem with sketching it out was it took a lot of trouble to change things since I had to resketch.

Thanks for another great post guys! Appreciate how you continue to share your knowledge with us!

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Lauren Gardiner

I’ve been working on a graphic novel during my last term at university, and I’ve continued to work on it since I’ve left. It’s been an interesting process because, although I have worked on comics in the past, I tried some different techniques and processes this time around.

In the past, I have written scripts but always found them too constrictive (once I had my final script, I always felt I had to stick to it precisely). So this time I tried a different approach and after writing a full detailed storyline which followed the hero’s journey structure, I went straight into drawing the story as small thumbnail pages. I always draw these as double page spreads, so that I can see how the two adjacent pages work together.

This worked quite well for me overall, and I got a first draft put together which, although crudely drawn, was a fully readable version of the story. This was the point I was at when I left uni, and after coming home I looked over the first draft again, and filled it with sticky notes detailing changes to the action, dialogue, composition, etc. I’ve just finished drawing out a thumbnailed second draft and will soon be ready to read it over.

As I said before, getting straight into drawing quickly has worked well overall for me, I think because I’m a very visual person and this method also holds my interest better. The issues I’ve had mainly stemmed from the fact that this began as a uni project and really quickly became bigger than I intended. This meant that I was quite rushed to get the first draft done and ready for my tutors to see. It also meant that the plot outline wasn’t quite ready either, so as a result I found that my first draft lacked clarity and closure, particularly for the characters personal arcs, and I’ve been fixing these issues in the second draft.

What I’ve got now is looking a lot clearer and more engaging than the first draft, but I’ll have to wait until I’ve properly read over the second draft before I can confirm that haha. It’s certainly been a learning experience so far, and will probably continue to be right up til I finish the final page of the book for real.

The main thing I’ve learned from this is that I really need to make sure that I address and resolve my characters story arcs with as much clarity and closure as the major story arc. I need to make sure I revise my detailed written story line, as that would help to ensure I don’t end up having to fix those issues during the sketching stages like I did this time. In hindsight, if I hadn’t been on a very tight university deadline, I wouldn’t have jumped into the thumbnailing stage as quickly as I did, and would have done more written drafts first.

Sorry, that turned into an essay! I also hope it actually makes sense, it’s quite late here haha :)

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Nera Granić

Hmm, there is an issue I’m battling with right now. I wanted to make a webcomic because it’s a great blend of storytelling and art, both of which I love.
During the course of my plotting (that is still going on) I switched the main characters because the side characters looked more solid and much more interesting.
One of the main characters is a blind person and I thoguht, since this work was made with an aim to be inclusive, that it would be ridiculous not to have the story in braille. This would mean that my comic would need a novel adaptation.

Since English is not my first language, I already planned on writing my comic in two languages (two versions), this would also translate to having the novel in two languages and braille in two languages.
For now, I’m unsure if I should start with the comic or with the novel. I’ve got more experience in story-writing than in comic-drawing so I am trying to decide which to tackle first.

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