Ready for another tip?
I love the original Clash of the Titans film. Not the acting, because it wasn’t that great (not bad, but not great). Not the ideas, even though I loved Greek mythology as a kid. No, I loved the work of Ray Harryhausen. His stop-motion animation was something that I’ve always had a thing for.
Stop-motion animation is a simple yet painstaking process. You have a figure, and you take a picture of it. Then you move it a miniscule amount, and you take another picture of it. Then you move it another miniscule amount, and you take another picture. You do this over and over again, until you’ve got a scene done. It can take a very long time.
When you’re writing for comics, you have to do something very like stop-motion animation. You have to write each single panel as a snapshot, a still image. You then have to move the action a little bit for the next panel. You don’t want to have too big of a gap between panels, and you generally don’t want to have too small a gap, either. Getting it just right can be a challenge.
Stop-motion animation is a physical representation of thinking visually. You have to know what want to portray, and then go about doing it, taking picture after picture until you’re done.
When you write for comics, you have to think visually as well. You can’t just sit down and write. (This is generally because you don’t know the artist you’re working with. As a new creator with no money, you generally don’t know who’s going to be drawing your comic until after you’ve already written it.) When you sit down to write and you’re thinking visually, you should be using a stop-motion method in order to cherrypick the best moments in time that give you the story with the highest sense of drama. Then you write.
When you write, in order to stop having movement in panels, the best thing to do is to write in the past tense. If you describe all motion as though it had just happened a moment ago, you’ve helped to freeze a moment in time for the artist to draw.
Also, get rid of the word “and”. That word is usually used to bridge two actions. “Rick went to the door and opened it.” That’s two actions, bridged by “and.” If you get rid of that word, you’re more often forced to write a single action, because it would otherwise sound strange.
Stop-motion animation, past tense, and cutting the word “and.” That’s your tip for the week.