Written by Brendan O’Meara
Word Count: 518
I’ve tried to build a following by writing infrequently, say once a week. Hasn’t worked too well. Now, I’m going to try and write several times a week and see if the spaghetti sticks. Maybe a little bit of blogging will help warm me up before hit the “real” writing. Who knows? I stress about platform building way too much. Or do I ???
What is this book I’m referring to, the best book on writing you’ve never read? It’s The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics. Yep, a book on how to write comic books. It’s 122 pages of wonderful tips. My great mentor Thomas French, author of Zoo Story among others, assigned this to us and it was one of those against-the-grain teaching tools that makes him so brilliant.
Part one of the book is the most valuable as it pertains to the basic fundamentals.
One pointer author Dennis O’Neil touches upon early is this
Telling you story as clearly as possible
How easy and how difficult is that? You have all these flourishes of language, maybe even a couple of wonderful sentences, but are they driving the story forward? Respect the reader’s time might be another way of saying what O’Neil said.
Here are some other things I highlighted:
Know the end of the story before you write the beginning (I call this the Lighthouse Effect. You’re stranded out at sea. You don’t know where to go. But what’s that? A light! You start swimming toward it. This way you know that all your words are in service of that ending. You can’t do this all the time, but I feel you should be thinking of an ending before you reach the end. It might come to you 500 words into your story or 5,000 or 50,000. But once you figure it out you’re writing downhill, baby.)
People are interested in people, not things (the exception is the Ring of Power and maybe the Elder Wand. This is especially important if you’re dealing in story where not a whole lot happens, those narratives of revelation. If readers love the characters enough, they’ll go along for about any ride.)
Put your hero out on the end of a limb and start sawing.
Show only what’s important. So start the scene as late as possible and once the dramatic point is made, end it.
Heroic failure is the stuff of great drama.
Never write a scene, or a single panel, that does not contribute directly to your plot. … that every word should contribute to the emotion you’re trying to engender in the reader.
Tell you what. I’m going to stop there. I think there’s enough nuggets there to either talk about or think about. If nothing else, writers across all genres need to find inspiration and tips from other creative media. That’s why DVD commentary is so valuable, especially, when available, DVD commentary on deleted scenes (If you own Ratatouille, listen to director Brad Bird talk about why he deleted scenes).
Bonus question: Who’s the best orphan? Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, Peter Parker, or Harry Potter?
I’m still doing this pretty slick giveaway. If you subscribe to my website, I’ll send you a personalized copy of Six Weeks in Saratoga.