Improving your writing quality
Iubdou at 8:55PM, Oct. 4, 2009
A quick guide to making your writing more comprehensive and your stories more involving
Hello, and welcome to my tutorial.
We've all seen them, the crappy little comics with no plot and no real humor. The art looks nice but that's not enough to keep you hooked, so you pass it by. We all know how bad they can get.
But so many comics suffer from poor writing and it's a shame because the concept is usually solid and the art is great. Writing is like any other skill and it needs to be constantly refined over time. I don't claim to be an expert, but here are some tips for better writing in your comics.
Any good comic is organized. Cross your t's, dot your i's, etc. But more than that you need to organize the comic as a whole. Where do you want it to go? How do you plan out the next story arc? Is your writing style structured enough that you can come back to it later and know exactly what you meant? All of these things can help a comic immensely.
When you're organized and plan ahead the story is more cohesive and it's easier to work out any kinks or problems ahead of time. It also helps the suspension of disbelief of the reader when there aren't any plot holes.
For the purposes of this tutorial, I'm regarding setting as being part of the plot because the two things are interwoven.
I don't mean to be the bearer of bad news, but comics about a group of quirky people have been done to death. Instead of worrying about making each character amazing, make the world amazing. Make the readers want to see the place that they exist in and want to be a part of this ongoing tale. Once you have that the characters should work themselves into the plot fairly easily, or spring from places you didn't expect.
A comic that focuses just on the characters gets old over time because there's only so much you can do with a few rooms and a bunch of people. A good example of this is Dominic Deegan, Oracle for Hire. What started as a gag comic became a smash hit when it focused on its story and the world those stories take place in.
A character is defined by two things. Their positive traits and their flaws. A positive trait can be anything that makes them stronger, better, or more of a decent person. A flaw is anything that hinders them on their journey.
There are so many omnipotent characters it's untrue. Give me a swordsman who is cursed so that he can never touch a weapon and seeks to work past it. Give me a hero who is always screwing up when he tries to help people. When your character has a flaw that defines them it endears them to the reader and makes any of their positive traits stand out even more.
4: Humor vs Drama
Pick a theme and stick to it. A webcomic suffers when the author can't decide between comedy and tragedy and flips back and forth. Each segment can go from one to the next and back again, but you should have a central idea and work from there. A humorous comic with dramatic and heart-wrenching moments works well, as does a dramatic comic occasionally cracking a one-liner.
Readers want consistency. They want to know that when they open up your comic they'll see the same writing style and the same kind of situations. When you switch things up a little they'll appreciate you keeping their interest, but do it too much and you'll lose readers over night.
When you write it's not just for yourself. Writing is in and of itself a public thing. Every comic out there is made to entertain their readers and to give the author pride in their accomplishments. So when you write, keep these things in mind and give it all that you can. You and your readers will appreciate it.