Telling Stories Through Dialogue
Writing tutorials, publishing tutorials, artist's writing tutorials. Writing help, strategies, hints, tips and tricks for writers of any type of media. Most people are used to writing stories in first or second person; but then when they come up to the mountain of new ideas in comic books, they are often lost in the mix. Its a new World when it comes to comic-books. You can't just write a story like you would any other time. Alot of things have to be done through dialogue, and what's not done through dialogue has to be done through art.

Comic-book are such an artistic medium; its not just the story-line, but its the pictures and the amazing ideas that come from them.

So lets say that you have your whole idea for a story-line, and in the first issue you want to introduce two people: Tom and Susie. To set the mood for these characters you also want the reader to know that Tom and Susie both have a thing for each other, but they don't realize it. So how do you do this? Well here's a traditional try:

Susie had a secret crush on Tom, but she was so shy and timid that it would probably never come out. This was in irony though; because Tom felt the same way, and again because he was nervous and scared of being turned down, he would probably never tell her.

Above is something we can do in a regular book, but in a comic-book you can't tell behind the scenes, everything has to be seen or someone has to say it. So this time, lets write the traditional style of comic-book script and use more images and dialogue.

But first, as discussed in the last tutorial, we have to remember to be specific when writing our comic book script so that the artist knows how to take us. The picture to the left is a great example at just a few of the routes an artist could unexpectedly take while penciling our script.

So as to not let any chance of confusion intervene with our work schedule, we will take the time to efficiently complete our comic book script in full by noting the little emotions and facial expressions that we think our characters will have. A picture is worth a thousand words, and we need to at least give our artists an idea of where to start. There are also other factors that are included like missing deadlines because while going over a script and the artist's pencils, you notice that he did some things a little bit different than you expected. Lets give the same idea above another try with a different spin.

Frame of Tom walking by Susie, she smiles but Tom doesn't see it.
Susie: Hi Tom.

Tom turned around facing her, he looks a little nervous.
Tom: How are you Susie?

Susie looks down at her feet, and Tom puts a smug look on his face.
Tom: Well I better get goin, I got alot of stuff to do.
Susie: Ok, bye.

Tom is walking away and his face is sad, in the background you see Susie's very sad face to.
Tom: Bye.

Now remember that these examples were done very quick and aren't exactly the best as far as details are concerned. But hopefully they give you a good idea of traditional writing, and comic-book scripts. They are so very different, and comic books take so much more time and so many more ideas. Someone has to be really creative to figure out how to write an interesting storyline and at the same time let readers know every little thing thats going on.

When you sit down and write a comic book script, it's not like writing a novel or short story in most aspects. You have write in a different way where your dialogue tells the story and your notes to the artist show the story.

The main ideas of telling a story with dialogue, is that while dialogue says one thing, the pictures of the comic show another. Picturing a story as a set of frames with occasional words on them helps alot of people write better stories. You try whatever you want, but in the end, remember that a picture is worth a thousand words.

- Joseph Lookabaugh

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