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Paul Duffield @paul_duffield
, 21 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
Been wanting to do this for ages: Tips for writers working with comic artists! THREAD! :D
1) Try to keep emotional beats to one-per-person-per-panel. If your dialogue goes through more than one significant emotion per character, artists can't support them all visually!
2) In the same vein, leave space for emotional reactions. If a character is meant to be reacting in the extreme, or if you want to draw attention to a subtler reaction, give the artist panel space to depict it before moving the dialogue on. Consider a stand-alone panel for it
3) If you're planning an important page, take a moment to roughly sketch it out on paper that's the size it'll be printed. Just boxes with circles indicating the size and placement of faces + panels. Consider: is there space for the artist to do justice to the details you want?
4) Sounds silly that this one needs saying, but I've seen it a few times: if you want a facial expression visible, the artist can't place the point of view behind the shoulder of a character. You can't see their face or even their profile from that angle without awkward posing.
5) Comics are about economy. Is your artist on a tight schedule? Do you know how much they're paid? Try to think in the same way a film director with limited budget has to. If the artist has to rush, an elaborate scene won't be as effective as you want.
6) This is an extension of #5, but it really needs to be said. Always ask yourself: can you achieve the same impact in a simpler way? Less panels? Less characters? Less dialogue? Less long shots? The more you cut, the more your artist can focus on nailing what's there.
7) Continuing the point about economy and your artist's time. You only need to establish where a scene is set once for each significant change in the scenery. Free up your page for your artist by not describing a full background in every panel unless it's telling story.
8) Think about what your artist can do to in terms beyond that of a camera pointing at a scene. They can draw the things you want to communicate representationally, figuratively, abstractly, metaphorically. Take an interest in the many ways art can express ideas or emotions.
9) This one is very important: talk to your artist at the beginning of a project, even if your editor will be communicating with them for the most part. Find out if they like having input into what they draw, or if they prefer a hands off approach.
10) When you understand how your artist likes working, you can tailor your script to them. Do they feel restricted by panel breaks? Consider writing page-by-page. Do they struggle with things like open-ended suggestions? Then you can be more explicit.
11) And when you're on a long project, ask them things like: "Is this working?" "Is there anything I can do to my scripts to save time for you?" "Is there anything you want the opportunity to do?" "Would you rather I just let you get on with things quietly?"
12) Above all, remember that they're storytellers too, and respect what they bring to your story. Readers can't see your story without them, so try to embrace the things they add, even the unexpected, & make a significant space for them in your sense of ownership over your story.
13) If you make edits to your script after the art is done, think about what's been drawn and how that restricts what a character can be saying. Does the line you now realise you want actually match the facial expression? Try acting it in the mirror, and seeing if it matches.
14) And tying #12 & #13 together, a good way to show that you respect your artist's significance to your story is to ask their permission before changing a line of dialogue that they used as the basis of their artwork. You may be accidentally undermining something they've added.
15) If you're writing about something visual or emotional in the dialogue or narration, think: is this something the artist will be drawing? Is there a reason to describe it to the reader in words as well (a deliberate contradiction perhaps), or can I make more space for the art?
16) When you describe a scene for your artist, try to entertain them a little. If you can make a description of the things you need in a panel both inspiring and, crucially, as BRIEF as it can possibly be, your artist's emotional reaction will shine through in their drawing.
17) And to generalise #16, don't forget that there's an art to the parts of the script that only the artists and editors will ever see. Spend time making that part as engaging and well-thought-out as your dialogue and narration is, and you'll literally see the results.
18) Watch your schedule. You come first, so typically publishers will be a bit more flexible with your deadlines because they're further from print dates. Every day over an agreed deadline that you don't hand a script in, your art "budget" gets a day tighter.
19) And, regarding schedules, always give new artists the benefit of the doubt. There's a lot of anecdotes from writers about artists blowing deadlines, and there are just as many from artists about writers. You're in this together, it shouldn't be an adversarial relationship.
20) To end... comic writers can be a bit like a Y chromosome: their role is often perceived as the dominant part of a comic's identity, but it's artists who draw it for months on end (often in actual pain!) & they don't technically need a writer to do that! So treat them well :)
20-B) That isn't meant to denigrate writers or the effort it takes to write comics, only to point out that artists can often write for themselves and it usually takes longer to draw a comic than write it!

Thread about pitching your script to artists here:
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