How To Break Into Comics: Writing
by Omar Spahi
I’m the host of Dreamer Comics Podcast, my name is Omar Spahi. I’ve decided to make it my life mission to help people break into comics. My goal is to help others create the best comics they possibly can.
So you want to be a writer? That’s great. This is probably the most competitive field in comics. Everyone wants to be a writer, but the good news is that everyone can be.
But I’m here to break down how to do it.
First of all, writing isn’t about using fancy words or picking the best vocabulary.
It’s about one thing: emotion.
More specifically, generating an emotional reaction in the reader. Make them, laugh, cry, or feel scared, but make sure they feel something.
The way to start writing is to start with the theme. What’s the story really about? What’s the lesson or emotion behind that you’re trying to draw from the reader?
One of my closest friends and mentors, Steven T. Seagle writer of Image Comics’ Get Naked recently reminded me that it all starts with THEME. If you don’t have a theme, you don’t have anything.
The best way to start is by starting with the theme. What’s the story about? What’s the lesson?
The second thing is building the lesson out once you know the story is about something, like… Sharing.
As an example, “Billy doesn’t want to share his toy, but then others don’t like him. Then Billy shares his toy, and makes someone else happy, and makes a friend. As an added bonus, he gets to play with a toy that’s not his. Sharing. Yay!” Lesson learned: sharing is great.
Structure is important, but it’s not everything. You must learn what structure is in order to learn how to set things up and pay them off. If there’s no structure, you can write whatever pops into your mind with no specific train of thought.
That’s why outlining is so important. A lot of people tend to write without a sense of direction, but those writers tend not to last long.
Next, sit down and use your outline to write out the script. You can do this all at once, or break it out into phases. Experiment with different processes. See what keeps you most productive, and keeps you flowing.
After you finish the script, put it down and walk away for a while, but you’re not done yet. Put it down for a few days and come back to it with fresh eyes. Be honest with yourself, re-write what’s not working, or what you thought was working but actually isn’t. This whole process of re-working and re-writing is called “polishing”. It’s important to complete this step so you’re not putting out sub-standard material.
So to recap: First, start with Theme: What’s your story’s moral?
Second: Outline. Set up the structure. What are the main beats of the story?
Third: Script, actually write the script out. WRITE THE THING.
Fourth: Polish. Re-work and re-visit the project with a fresh set of eyes. Does everything flow?
Last but not least, read here about the importance of networking. It’s important to talk to others about what you’re working on, and keep pushing forward.