Writing A Graphic Novel: Can Screenwriting Help a Comic Book Writer?
Jessica Brody explained why a novelist should follow screenwriters. Instead of sending you to her book, which is awesome by the way, I will explain to you the why. Even as a comic book, manga, or graphic novel writer you need structure. You need structure because you are competing with novelist and screenwriters. Sounds bleak, but don’t worry true believers. Now is a great time to be a comic book writer. Why? Read on my friend
Avengers: End Game grossed 2.79 billion as of this writing. The highest-grossing film of all time. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have had five live-action movies. Men in Black now has four live action movies. X-men, for better or worse, has had many adaptations for the live screen. All based on American comic books. What about manga? Most manga are adapted into anime series. If you check out Netflix you will find live-action movies of Fullmetal Alchemist, Bleach, and Death Note. Television? The Walking Dead. Novels? There are way too many X-men adapted novels and DC comics have young adult novels based on Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. In other words, maybe your comic, manga, or graphic novel might not sell, you could have the next blockbuster television, film, or animated series.
Graphic novel writers use a script format. All though there is no industry standard, if you don’t have a properly formatted script, no one will read it. The same happens in Hollywood. A script is still the most accepted form of writing a comic. Most comic book writing books will teach you two methods. The plot-base method, used by Stan Lee when he started out, allows the writer to basically write brief descriptions and focus more on dialogue. This allows the artist to have more freedom over how the story looks art-wise. Stan Lee was able to writer multiple books because he trusted Jack Kirby and other artists. Then you have full script. This is when a writer is more detailed with descriptions, dialogue, and directs the artist how everything should look. Some would say this means they don’t trust the artist, but it doesn’t. Of course, you don’t have to choose between the two. There are many ways to writer comic script. I suggest learning the Dark Horse formatting
One advantage a comic book writer has over screenwriters is if they can afford to have an artist, a comic book yields a quicker visual production than any movie script in its written form. People love art and you can draw more people to your site or script because it’s already in a visual medium.
There are more avenues for comic writers to get their work seen. As I stated before with a good artist, you can self-publish. Although the art will attract readers and potential customers, it you don’t have a solid story, the book will not last. That is where Save the Cat comes in. Learning about the beats, genre elements, and how to pace your story will become like second nature.
To accomplish this, takes planning. You have to analyze works in your genre. This means not reading for the enjoyment but reading to understand where each beat is. Writing is a journey. Your own hero’s journey.
Writing, especially screenwriting, is a great way to learn and write your own script. Remember, you are writing not just a story, but your script help directs the artist on what to draw. You are the mastermind. You are the director (unless you are more of a plot-based writer like Stan Lee when he started out. That is the great thing. You can be as brief or detailed with your script. However, your story, your structure has to be solid. The script must be easy for your artist to comprehend and that includes your inker, colorist, and letterer. It’s not an easy job, but you can do it.