This is not so much a “what you should do” list as a “what I did” list.
1. Realize that you have become obsessed with not only superhero comics in general, but you’ve got a couple of your own superheroes in your head.
2. Write down a couple of random scenes. Realize that the overall shape of the thing is about teen superheroes who have a hard time with actual adult life.
3. Do some character sketches. Develop a team. Develop character arcs for each team member.
4. Ignore the project off and on for six months. Sometimes write a scene, sometimes read books that are relevant to what you’re writing, like Marvel’s Supreme Power or Bryan J.L. Glass’ book Furious or books about the Golem of Prague.
5. Realize that this project is what you want to do for NaNoWriMo, even though it’s a comic book. Decide to do it anyway. Get Scrivener. Realize how good that is for writing comics.
6. Go for the 50K word count, realizing how ridiculous an idea that is even as you realize that 1,667 words is between 5 and 8 comic book pages.
7. Write three issues no problem, struggle through a further two. Shake your head as you juggle the now fourteen named characters plus surprise Nikola Tesla, and three separate time periods. And that you’re gonna have to do even more research than you have done on certain subjects (the kabbalah/qabalah, reading written Hebrew, neighborhoods of Brooklyn, how Interpol works, mach speed system, etc).
8. Increasingly freak out as you realize that 50K just isn’t happening.
9. Realize that there is actually a whole community of people like you, and they are called “NaNo Rebels.” They have alternate goals intended for scripts. There are even other people writing comics, and by the way, even though you only have barely 30K words, you already won by either the 100-page script goal or the 20K script goal. Also realize that a good NaNo script goal is to write a trade-paperback-worth of comics, i.e. 5 or 6 issues.
10. Decide to go to seven issues because you just figured out a major plot arc and how it works.
11. Keep pressing on, even though you actually have no artist, and no idea the destiny of this project. Sometimes you have to just write a thing because it’s in you and needs to get out.
In case you were wondering what my actual comic book scripts look like, let me show you them.
First off, I outline. As I mentioned long ago in this link roundup, I really enjoy the Cullen Bunn plot-to-script method of first outlining the scenes, breaking them down into pages, and then writing the actual pages. Scrivener makes the outline pretty easy:
It’s not a completely linear process. Sometimes I have a scene that I’ll retroactively add into the outline, sometimes I’ll change the outline a few times during the process of writing an issue.
Either way, each page of comic script has two main bits, just like a film script: a description of what you see, and dialogue/captions in lieu of a description of what you hear.
I’m still learning a lot about writing comics, particularly how much detail to put on each page, and which bits I need to repeat or tell differently for the sake of the artist (keeping in mind they don’t work in a linear fashion always, and some artists don’t like panel breakdowns). But by the end of the month, I’ll have 150ish pages of practice, so that’s a thing.
And isn’t practice of some kind what a good NaNoWriMo is all about?