Thursday, May 30, 2013

Writing Scripts!

Script writing for comics is a strange thing. Comic scripts don't have a standard format, so basically it comes down to what works best for you.

I'm an independent graphic novelist that works alone, so I have to carry both roles of being a writer and an artist. I write comic scripts in a way that creating them doesn't take up all of my time, but yet they are detailed enough so when I get to drawing that part of the script, I can still understand what I had in mind.

Sometimes I type my scripts and other times I hand-write them. One method isn't better than the other, especially if you're working by yourself. It all depends on how I feel and how my ideas are flowing.

Regardless of how the script is structured, it typically has these elements:

Dialog

Obviously, dialog is what the characters are saying or thinking.

Character Emotion
When a character says something, sometimes they say it with emotion or a notable facial expression. Also, they may have an emotional reaction to an event that isn't conveyed in the dialog.

Panel description

This is information about camera angles, scene settings, and sometimes where characters are placed in a panel. I tend to only include this information if it's vital to the panel. I don't take the time to write out the camera angles and character placement for every panel. I do more of this type of planning when I'm sketching panel layouts.

So this is how script writing typically goes for me. Once again, I'll use Mascara as an example.

1. Just write it. I simply write everything that's in my mind. I do the dialog, settings, and any panel descriptions I think that I might need. The example below has the character emotions and descriptions highlighted. "SFX" is for any sound effects or atmospheric words that are not part of the dialog.

Mascara Chapter 8
 
Jillian: I've always been an athlete. Pushing my body to the limit. Although I'm powerful, I'm still a girl. 
 (Jillian kicking soccer ball looking awesome. The ball hitting the net.)
 (sfx) Goal!
 Girls in the background: Go Jillian!
 (Her team congratulating her and patting her on the back.)
 Team: That was awesome! And it was just practice! Those private universities won't have a chance next season!
 Jillian (laughing): Yeah. Thanks.
 One of the girls (pointing at her watch and winking): Jill, you're going to be late.
 Jillian (freaking out): Oh, no! How do I look? Am I too sweaty?
(One of the girls on the team pushes her forward)
Girl: William is just finishing track practice himself.
(Jillian walking next to some tall bushes)
J (narr): I've never trembled in front of any of my opponents as much as--
 (Shot of Will laughing with some faceless guys)
 J (narr): --when I'm talking with Will.  

2. Edit. I go through, read the lines, and change what I don't like.

3. Page planning. For me, this part is just about as important as writing the script. With Mascara, each of my chapters were around 16 pages. So I had to make sure that my script fitted the number of allotted pages, and that it could do so with out any panel over crowding. Also, this is where I plan the pacing of the story which is very important. Some parts the story needs to progress quickly, and in other parts, it has to slow down. I limit myself to a maximum of 6 panels per page. I typically stick with five or less.

Here's the same script, but now with the pages planned. #1 is page numbers. *1 is panel numbers.


#1 *1 Jillian: I've always been an athlete. Pushing my body to the limit. Although I'm powerful, I'm still a girl. 
#2 *1 (Jillian kicking soccer ball looking awesome.)
*2 (The ball hitting the net.) (sfx) Goal!
 Girls in the background: Go Jillian! 
#3 *1( Small panel with the sign of her university. Her team congratulating her and patting her on the back.)
 Team: That was awesome!
*2 And it was just practice! Those private universities won't have a chance next season!
 Jillian (laughing): Yeah. Thanks.
*3 One of the girls (pointing at her watch and winking): Jill, you're going to be late.
*4 Jillian (freaking out): Oh, no! How do I look? Am I too sweaty?
(One of the girls on the team pushes her forward)
Girl: William is just finishing track practice himself.
*5 (Jillian walking next to some tall bushes)
J (narr): I've never trembled in front of any of my opponents as much as--
#4 *1 (Shot of Will laughing with some faceless guys)
J (narr): --when I'm talking to Will.  
So this is four pages all planned out. This script is not in stone. In fact on the finished comic pages, William's name was changed to Chris and the dialog is a tiny bit different.  I organize things like this until I reach page 16. Then I'm done writing the script!

After that comes the panel planning sketches, which I'll be writing a post about very soon.



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