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Comic Scripting - Useful links, tools and thought balloons (WriteBlog #15)

First and foremost, before I get into this week's actual topic: the Seventh Star Press anthologies containing my two new stories are available for e-readers now! Click this link here to see purchase links from various online places. Not to influence your decision, but they're good fun. The Unseelie Court piece, in particular, is one of my favourite short works.

But that isn't what I'm here to blog about. After a short break to get the novel editing underway, I returned to comic scripting in the last few days, as I still owe a script to GreyHaven Comics. My last effort was chronicled here, and that got through editorial with only minor changes, so how'd it go this time?

Let's Research Comics!

In a bid to get more under the skin of this process, I've read a lot of comics lately, plus listened to a few episodes of Word Balloon and Let's Talk Comics - in-depth interview podcasts with comic creators. (If you want a recommendation, episode #6 of Let's Talk Comics with Brian Michael Bendis was both fun and inspirational, although quite long.)

Also, for anyone looking to read about comic-stuff, a lot of creators are very active on Tumblr, answering questions, posting thoughts and suchlike. If you're starting an account and following people, some of the better ones I've found for writing process talk are:

For some of those, it probably helps if you're familiar with their actual works to get the most out of it. Kieron Gillen's podcast Decompressed also has a lot of interesting comics-thoughts from various creators. Also, I was at the recording of the Brubaker-Phillips episode and I'm sure I heard myself chuckle at least a couple of times. So yes, those were my methods of inspiration.

Good job I was feeling upbeat, as I'd set myself a difficult task in terms of actual scripting - the narrative ran along two parallel tracks, connected by a slideshow, with only four pages to fit it all. I hope you get to read it one day, it'll be cool if I pull it off. Or if I've made a total mess of everything, hopefully you never see it and I'll throw all the copies down a well.

After all the materials I've looked at, I think I've hit a scripting tone I'm happy with, in terms of describing what has to be conveyed without being too commanding about how exactly the artist should do their job - although we won't find out how well I did until all's said and done. But as I say, the editor seemed happy with my last one. This latest script should go off for editorial perusal in the next week or so, after I've had time to do another read-through.

Don'wanna leave Scrivener...

In terms of tools, I wrote the last script in Word, and although that went fine, I wanted something that looked cleaner and more readable - in short, more like the comic scripts I'd seen in books. Not to mention: after doing all my substantial writing in Scrivener for ages, going back to Word felt downright odd.

Luckily I stumbled across the comic script template for Scrivener by Antony Johnston - it actually comes included with the Scrivener software, but Johnston's article linked just then provides useful guidelines about how to use it. So now I can produce scripty-looking scripts and never leave Scrivener again. A dream fulfilled!

I picked a good time to make that change, as I think the more spaced-out scripting format might make the complex structure of this story come through better. I ended up including a brief note to the artist at the end to make sure all was clear, but at least I didn't need to supply a diagram. Which, at times, I really thought I might.

So, first draft now done. It was a long job, and a lot might be changed or refined once I read it through in one clear sitting, as it was very bitty and might not yet flow well. Still, as with most writing, especially shorter pieces of work, having a draft to play with is half the battle. One more long afternoon of revisions and I think we'll be there. Cool. And if anyone else has any comics-process inspiration sources I should look at before tackling scripts again, do let me know in the comments. Enjoying this stuff a lot.


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