I am a New York Times Bestselling writer and editor who loves stories, cephalopods, and monster girls. I write a lot and sometimes even get to draw and paint. My latest comic book work is top secret, but you can check out 'Emily and the Strangers' from Dark Horse Comics for some some weird science, awesome rock, and lots and lots of cats. Or my short story 'Rise' in the Vertigo anthology 'The Witching Hour' for some straight up horrory goodness. I spend a lot of time on Twitter as TiredFairy and my blog, blogging about things, at SquidyGirl.blogspot.com.
Here are my Top 5 Tips on getting started with your comic writing!
1. Get Your Idea on Paper
So you have an idea for a comic. Great! The first thing you need to do is pretty simple: write that sucker down. Start with a sentence, build it into a paragraph or two, then fill up a page. Make sure you’re thinking about the “whole story,” not just the concept. What does the “whole story” mean? Well, who are the characters? What are you trying to say with this story? What’s the main plot? What are the themes? How are you going to get from A, to B, to C? Take your time and really hone your idea into a cohesive, compelling story concept. This outline will help you keep track of your story as you work on your first script.
2. Get Feedback
Show your idea to a person you trust. And I’m not talking about your best friend who always tells you what you want to hear. Find a reader who can be objective and constructive, who can let you know what works or what doesn’t in a way that encourages you. Not sure you’re ready to show someone else your work? That’s fine, polish it until you are. But if you’re planning on sharing this comic eventually it’s a good idea to get trusted feedback early. You’re going to get plenty of feedback if you put it out in the world, so it’s a good idea to get used to it now.
3. Get in Sync with the Comic World
Ever written a comic before? If not, check out How To books like Scott McCloud’s 'Understanding Comics' to get familiar with the form. Comics are not just movies on paper, they have a rhythm and pace all their own. You’ll need to familiarize yourself with the language of comics and communicating with an artist, even if you don’t have one yet. There are lots of resources online and even some great classes you can take.
4. Read Comics
Read a lot of comics! All kinds! Check out online works, collected stories, monthlies, and pick a variety of genre’s. Even if your story is a horror comic, you can learn a ton from an autobiographical work or a superhero tale. Get familiar with what the medium has to offer, discover new creators, and think about what works for you as a reader and what doesn’t. Analyze why, then consider those things when writing yours.
5. Write and Have FUN
Write, write, write, and rewrite. Don’t rush it. Don’t be too hard on yourself, you’re just starting out! Enjoy the process, listen and learn from others in the industry (there are tons of folks on Twitter, Tumblr, and blogs willing to share tips and techniques), and remember: comics should be fun!
What are you waiting for? Get started!
Mariah Huehner is a New York Times bestselling author and veteran editor of the comic book industry. She's best known for writing the 'True Blood: All Together Now' and 'True Blood: The French Quarter' graphic novels, and has edited some of the most groundbreaking series in the industry, including 'Fables', 'Lucifer', 'The Sandman: Endless Nights', 'Death: At Death's Door', and 'Womanthology'. She plans to write and edit even grander and geekier series in the near future.
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