Tuesday, 3 December 2013

This Title is Five Words.

I think everyone who writes should try their hand at writing comics.  While some readers might disregard this as easy writing for children or emotionally stunted 30-something males, I would like to see them try to tell a cogent story within the sticky parameters of 25 words per thought bubble and 50 words per panel--all within the industry standard 22 page issue.  Develop characters.  Hint at backstory.  Foreshadow future events.  Create emotional connections to dynamic characters that didn't exist before you put pen to paper.  Novels typically run 70-100 thousand words.  I'm not saying those are a walk in the park to write either, but at least there is lots of room to work.

I recently edited a PhD thesis for a friend of mine who favoured long sentences that would have made even a Victorian writer raise a sooty brow.  It is harder to be concise than long winded.  Comics, by their very structure, force the issue so that every word counts.  Unnecessary dialogue or narration block the art and weigh down the pacing of what is generally an action-oriented story.  These things always walk a fine line though, because while brevity may be the soul of wit, you can also cut so much that the story ceases to make sense. I know I have occasionally read comic books where I found that to be the case.

Ever since I got the feedback from the Top Cow fellow about tightening dialogue further so that nothing extraneous weighs down the story, I have been toying with the notion of going back over the Holger scripts to see if there is anything that I can tighten the screws on.   The thought makes me nervous though, because --while I can bear the idea of a rewrite--I hate the idea of Cody having to redraw any of issue #1.  However, if the submission/rejection process has taught me anything, it is that excellence is a matter of practice, repetition and perseverance more than raw talent or a lucky break.  Those with an overabundance of talent (or, lots of fortuitous encounters) rarely have to improve on what they have already.  Even more hobbling, they haven't learned to persevere through difficulty or rejection and therefore never attempt what doesn't come easy.  So, perhaps I should revel in the idea of a redraw because it will serve to enhance Cody's talent, develop his perseverance et cetera, et cetera.  Or, at the very least, --if rewriting doesn't prompt redrawing-- I might get some good out of it.  Practice, if not resulting in perfection, results in a better outcome; a faster output and less emotional attachment to the product of your labours (which will be of monumental importance when you get to the rejection stage of the game.)

So, whatever you are working on: work more.

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