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Friday, May 21, 2010

Writing Shadowland: Daughters of the Dragon: A look at Page by Page Outlines for Comic Book Scripts

Last night I worked on Issue 2 of Shadowland: Daughters of the Shadow for Marvel. The deadlines for this series are coming very close together:
  • Issue 1 script was due 5/14
  • Issue 2 script is due 6/4
  • Issue 3 script is due 6/25

So that means I need to hand over a 22-page comic script every three weeks. This is a luxurious schedule if you have a reasonable amount of time each day; I do my writing at night and three weeks is not a problem for a comic script provide that I know what the story actually is. That same story needs to be approved by various powers that be-- editors, managers, continuity experts, and in the case of a massive crossover like Shadowland, editors who are running the whole event.

We plan out what the story is through outlines and then even more granular outlines.

For Shadowland: Daughters of the Shadow, before I go to full script, I write a page-by-page outline of the issue at hand in the comic. Actually, it's not quite page by page for me; this is another example where the only rule is whether it makes sense to the editor.I tend to take the 22 pages an break them into 3 Acts, with the scenes broken into pages. It looks like this:

The real benefit to the PxP is that everyone on the team can get a feel for whether they're on board with the script, its pacing, and what actually happens. 22 pages in a comic issue is not very much, so here, without having gone all the way to script, you already have a sense for whether you really have the room to tell the story you want.

I use an act structure because I use an act structure for everything, including individual scenes-- there is always a beginning, a middle and and end.

More next week!

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