National Graphic Novel Writing Month Day 21: Nobody Likes Ten Pages Of Talking Heads
Day 21, and I’m in hell. Let me give you my particular problem and share my pain with you.
The story for my graphic novel hinges on a bunch of financial manipulations. I’m doomed.
Why? Comics is a visual medium. That means the writer has to find a way to make the story visually interesting. I have to make a story about high finance discernable in pictures.
Is there a way to do this? Yes, there is– you show the characters, and you show them doing things. Show the impact of what’s going on. And as a writer, this means that you have to describe what you want to see on the page so that the artist can draw it.
I was lucky enough to take art classes with John Buscema when I was a young lad, and he would use his book How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way
as his textbook. There was one section that stuck with me, showing how to tell a scene with just two people in it dramatically.
First, the bland version:
And now the dramatic version:
This is what you have to be ready to describe to your artist, helping to make it a more visually arresting story. Notice that John never even breaks the six-panel grid.
You can also use Wally Wood’s 22 Panels That Always Work (Or Some Interesting Ways To Get Some Variety Into Those Boring Panels Where Some Dumb Writer Has A Bunch Of Lame Characters Sitting Around And Talking For Page After Page) for visual inspiration
But the best thing you can do is have the characters acting, taking care of some bit of business. Have them doing something in the scene that gives the artist something to draw, and that reveals themselves to the audience by what they do, how they interact with each other, even how they stand or sit.
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