So, I have decided to start attending meetings for a local group of comic book writers, under the impressive collective title, Yorkshire League of Writers. Though my practice this year has certainly swung round to point strongly in the direction of animation, I still have a fair amount of weight behind my leanings toward comic writing. In any event, I want to get better at telling stories effectively, which is why I think this new opportunity will be very beneficial indeed. In addition to this, I will gain valuable insight into the working processes of comic writers in the vicinity, make new contacts, and keep my options open in terms of what projects I myself might engage in in the future.
Their blog has a list of helpful tips from big names in the industry. I found the following advice from Dennis O’Neil (definitely not from Dennis Oh) to be a very useful introduction to all kinds of story-making:
Particularly this passage:
‘Writing is self-taught. You acquire the skill by applying the seat of your pants to a flat object and moving a stylus across paper or tapping a keyboard, and you continue to do that until someone begins paying you to do it, and then you spend the rest of your life teaching yourself how to do what you’re doing. It is often a lonely life–you can get help before and after, but not during–and if the notion of closing a door behind you and manipulating verbal and visual language for many hours every week is abhorrent to you, then perhaps you would be happy applying your skill and intelligence and enthusiasm elsewhere.’
‘A story is a structured narrative designed to achieve an emotional effect, demonstrate a proposition or reveal character.
It must have conflict and there must be something at stake.
Action should rise and culminate in most powerful moment.
Everything should be presented with maximum clarity.
Every element of the strip – writing, art, coloring, lettering – should be aimed at achieving all of the above.’
Good advice for any kind of creative writing – the last part brings it back nicely to the comic-writing.
As well as this, I have decided to attempt writing a short story to submit to this competition, and have been reading many different passages that attempt to explain the working process behind writing a short story. This list of 10 Tips for Creative Writers has already helped me to find a starting point. As well as this, I have been reading through a lovely book (a birthday gift from dear old Lydia) called Letters to a Young Novelist, by Mario Vargas Llosa. This one is beautifully written, very passionate, and largely distracting me from the task at hand. I’m off to scribble down some potential plotlines. 300 words ain’t so bad, but I do not want 300 words of guff.