Here’s another secret of comic scripting:
The more words you add to a panel description, the more likely you are to lose your artist.
Most of you are novice creators, and as novice creators, you’re also going to be working with other novice creators. The reason for this is simple: most of you can’t afford to work with a seasoned veteran. A veteran creator knows how they want to get their script, and they know what information to look for in order to make the story sing. They can take a three word sentence and build an entire panel out of it. Or, conversely, they can take a three hundred word paragraph and make a panel out of it. They know what information is important and what information isn’t.
Newer creators don’t know what is and isn’t important yet. They’re in the process of learning. So it is up to the writer to know what is and isn’t important when they’re putting information in the panel description. Keeping your word count down per panel is one way to train yourself to only put in what’s important, and leave out the extraneous stuff.
If you don’t know what is and isn’t important to your panel, then you aren’t ready to write.
That may sound a bit harsh, but it isn’t. It’s plain fact. If you don’t know what is and isn’t important to the particular panel you’re writing, then you aren’t ready to write, and you should stop until you know what you’re trying to get across.
Your panel description has to do one thing: impart information. It doesn’t matter what that information is—it just has to get across in the most efficient way possible. If your panel is trying to do three things at once, more than likely, you’re wrong.
Once you know what you’re trying to get across, you know what is and isn’t important to that panel. Then, you can write the panel description, using the fewest amount of words possible. Except for establishing shots, if your panel descriptions are over 100 words, you’ve more than likely written too much. Try to go back and do some cutting.
Now, go and practice.