How I learned to write comics Part 3 – The idea

So we’ve covered what comics are and what they have the potential to be here and you’re still here so you now want to write comics but your not sure of the idea of what your comic could be about or worse still, you think your idea is cliched or rubbish.

Remember when I told you about the first rule to not give up discussed at the welcome page? Well this is when it starts!

Ideas do not come from a vacuum. They are the combination of various stimuli’s that our conscious and unconscious minds process. They can strike you at odd times and places. I for one get many an idea as I’m lying in bed drifting off to sleep or having a shower. These mundane tasks put my brain into rest mode as it doesn’t need to think anymore. That’s not to say I wait for inspiration to hit me, far from it. I love taking photos of random stuff I find interesting or trying to create connections between the most random of things but it is the meditative process of not thinking that helps my mind start making these connections clear. I can’t speak for how other creators get their sparks but I will share with you how I gain my initial idea. Like most things in these blog posts I’ll stick with Resurrection Men as it is a series I’ve finished and know something about.

In this instance, I had seen an advert for an exhibition at a train station whilst getting off the train on my way to work.

The name stuck and it got me thinking about what a Resurrection Man was (apart from a DC comic that has nothing even remotely similar to Resurrection Men). And there it stayed. This was 2013. I wrote down the name and promptly forgot about it. I knew it might be useful title for a zombie idea but nothing was concrete.

Then one night I was watching a zombie flick or reading World War Z, I can’t remember which one but the idea of creating a zombie book stuck. I always wanted to do a zombie type story but not a traditional idea. But again the idea of a seed was there. FYI, Resurrection Men is not a zombie book though that’s how it started!

The final parts of the story resolved around the idea of touch. I remember reading that the average person touches their face several hundreds times a day and I thought to myself that we are actually a very tactile species. I started jotting down an idea of what would happen in a world we’re the slightest touch meant your death? This became the foundation of The Leftovers powers in Resurrection Men. I scripted out an opening scene about a mother dying at the touch of her newborn child and a shadowy government agency called The Collectors taking the child away and once again hit a stone wall. This was a couple of years ago and real life started taking over.

Then one day I was asking a few friends what they thought would be a more interesting idea for a story and I pitched Resurrection Men about people that could bring the dead back to life but in doing so lost a part of their own soul. It peaked the interest of my friends and then I started fleshing out the story. It was only till after the first issue was drawn that I actually released I had rushed my story into production without thinking about the characters and plot. I had a loose group of ideas with some dialogue that moved things along but it wasn’t a story yet. That would come later.

When asked what they would have like to have known when they started writing comic, a colleague said “events are not a story. How your characters REACT to events, each according to their own motivations, IS the story.”

I didn’t realise at the time when I first wrote Resurrection Men that I was writing events and not writing a story.

So for first comics that’s how I created Resurrection Men – a bunch of random ideas that I wanted to gel into a story. But you want to know how to get your own ideas don’t you? Read on!

No I literately mean it. Read everything you can. I said earlier that you may find your work cliched but that’s totally fine. You’re new to this and you’re developing your craft. But remember there is only one of YOU. You have a unique voice to tell these cliched stories in a new manner so write on!

Are you ready for some home learning? Good. Pick up a comic, film, in fact any form of creative medium and try and distill what the story is about in one sentence. I’ve given you a couple below but by the time you move to the next article you should be able to sum up at least one idea in a sentence or two like the examples below.

“What if you could bring the dead back to life with the touch of your hand?” – Resurrection Men

“What if a cynical, retired journalist is brought back to the city he hates to crack open the story of a lifetime?” – Transmetropolition

“What if a radioactive spider bit a young shy teenager and gave them the power to fight crime as a web slinging, wisecracking masked vigilante whilst juggling school?” – Spider-Man

“What if a billionaire orphan watches as his parents are killed before his eyes and grows up to fight crime as the worlds greatest detective?” – Batman

You could do this all day but the important thing to realise is that these are ideas and not stories! Now I have one more piece of work to give you, take something that’s happened in your life and sum it up in a sentence like above. For example, the following happened to me;

“A young mother goes into a complicated labour and is operated upon whilst her husband waits alone, scared.”

This was how my first child was born. By positioning the story like this I have already created tension. A reader will want to know what happened to my wife. What was the resolution? Did the wife turn out ok? How did the husband deal with the pressure? Did they baby arrive safely? Just so you know, everyone was fine and my son Nate was born healthy.

An idea will be subject to change.

Before we finish this article I asked some other indie creators friends of mine who have all run successful Kickstarters the question “where do you get your ideas from?” And here’s what they said.

“My ideas tend to stem from the social issues I value. I take a problem that our world faces, like mental health, economic inequality or crime, and twist it in a way that’s (hopefully) engaging to the reader in a way that the original topic on it’s own might not be.” – Evan Waterman, author of More Than Men

“My ideas simply come from this question: ‘What kind of story have I always wanted to read that I haven’t read yet?’ You should always write what you want to read.” – Conner Bartel, author of Grimwood Crossing

“Most of the influences for my stories come from the great epic-poems like The Divine Comedy or Beowulf. Mix that with the comedic fun of action and horror movies of the 80’s and 90’s. Only then will you have a certified B (maybe C) story by Chris ~Cliff~ Reichard.” – Chris Reichard, author of Angels of Hell

So you’ve got some home learning to do and I’ll see you next time.

All the best,

Nic

How I learned to write comics Part 2 – What are comics?

Comics are a unique art form that spans over a century but did you know humans have been using images to portray meaning for thousands of years? I won’t go into all the different histories of comics, instead I will send you off on your first piece of home learning.

Pick up a copy of Scott McCloud’s excellent “Understanding Comics” which you can see in the feature image. I would like you to read chapter one – Setting the Record Straight. It should take about ten minutes. You can pick up a copy on amazon here or find one at your local library. I found this a real eye opener when I first picked it up. I had already finished the script for Resurrection Men #1 when I read it and there was some sage wisdom I had read prior to writing my first story. It talks about the history of the comic as an medium of entertainment but also really starts to make you think of the potential the art form has.

McCloud’s book is seen as one of the corner stones for those wanting to learn more about the art of comics. What’s really great however is that he treats this book as one big comic. Each page is in the form of a comic book with a clean narrative which takes you by the hand and explores the world of comics.

So I’ll sum up what McCloud says that “our attempts to define comics are an ongoing process which won’t end anytime soon. A new generation will no doubt reject whatever this one decides to accept and try once more to re-invent comics.”

What are comics? Whatever the hell you like and don’t let anyone tell you differently!

All the best,

Nic

How I learned to write comics Part 1 – Introductions

Have you wanted to write a comic before but never gotten your initial idea anywhere past a daydream or a a scribble on a piece of paper? Then this series is for you! I started writing comics (with conviction) two years ago. I had dabbled in the past but never got anything concrete down. It was only after I decided to commit to the long haul of the creation process that I ended up with my first comic Resurrection Men which by the way if you would like a free copy of issue one click here or on the photo below.

There are tons of awesome resources on the net that already cover what I’m going to talk about over this series such as this, this or this. But what I want to cover is my experiences and share with you some lessons I learned in the process of creating the comic above. As a teacher in my real life role I always get frustrated when seeking information only to be denied because I don’t want to pay money. Why should you pay money for sharing knowledge. Oh I get why but it goes against my values to hide knowledge to only those who can pay for it.

I’m going to try and write an article each week about how I wrote my first comic series Resurrection Men and what things I learned on the way to making it a somewhat successful Kickstarter. I say once a week but I’m a father, husband, musician and teacher first. As my wife would say, this is my passion but it doesn’t pay the bills! My hope though is that these articles will help those that need guidance and I will periodically look back and update them as I learn more things in my journey being a writer of comics.

I am not an expert nor am I Brian K. Vaughan, Brian Michael Bendis, Scott Snyder,Scott McCloud, Will Eisner, Dan Abnett, Frank Miller, Grant Morrison, Robert Kirkman, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Alan Moore or Warren Ellis. Those guys know their craft in and out but I have learned enough and spoke to enough people (yep even BMB there) to speak with some authority.

Since I am a teacher there will be some home learning. I’ll ask you to read books, comics, watch films, documentaries and read articles. I’ll even ask you to complete creative tasks. I’ll do everything I can think of to help you because you’re here to learn and that genuinely makes me happy. There is no failure if you try and never give up.

Before we begin I would ask you to bare in mind the following as you move forward;

  1. Never give up
  2. Be nice to everyone you meet
  3. Devour as much information from everywhere you can.

If you can do those three things you might not necessarily be the next big thing, but you’ll be an awesome comic writer with a passion that will inspire others and make people want to help and work with you!

So are you ready? Then let’s begin!

Nic

  1. Welcome
  2. What are comics?
  3. The idea

How to write a book in three days!

The following article came from here. I am not the author. I have found this a really useful tool in planning out my comic writing even though it is designed to be for novels the theory can be applied to other storytelling mediums.

NaNoWriMo?

Pah. Try NaNoWriWeekend.

Michael Moorcock is a highly influential English writer. His career has mostly specialised in fantasy and sci-fi, and whilst some of his novels have been highly literary, he was a firm exponent of sword-and-sorcery, particularly in the sixties and seventies.

He has often commented on the craft of writing, but one of his most unique and interesting techniques is his plan for writing a book in three days. He was talking about sword-and-sorcery at the time, the fantasy inheritor of pulp fiction, and the books in question were typically 60,000 words, but even so, there’s a lot to be said for his methods. Despite the general medium, the power of his work has been huge, and his best-known character, Elric, is one of fantasy’s great standouts.

michael moorcock

Michael Moorcock

Anyway. Here is Mike’s technique for writing a book in three days:

* First of all, it’s vital to have everything prepared. Whilst you will be actually writing the thing in three days, you’ll need a day or two of set-up first. If it’s not all set up, you’ll fail.

* Model the basic plot on the Maltese Falcon (or the Holy Grail — the Quest theme, basically). In the Falcon, a lot of people are after the same thing, the Black Bird. In the Mort D’Arthur, again a lot of people are after the same thing, the Holy Grail. It’s the same formula for westerns, too. Everyone’s after the same thing. The gold of El Dorado. Whatever.

* The formula depends on the sense of a human being up against superhuman force — politics, Big Business, supernatural evil, &c. The hero is fallible, and doesn’t want to be mixed up with the forces. He’s always about to walk out when something grabs him and involves him on a personal level.

* You’ll need to make lists of things you’ll use.

* Prepare an event for every four pages.

* Do a list of coherent images. So you think, right, Stormbringer: swords, shields, horns, and so on.

* Prepare a complete structure. Not a plot, exactly, but a structure where the demands were clear. Know what narrative problems you have to solve at every point. Write solutions at white heat, through inspiration: really, it can just be looking around the room, looking at ordinary objects, and turning them into what you need. A mirror can become a mirror that absorbs the souls of the damned.

* Prepare a list of images that are purely fantastic, deliberate paradoxes say, that fit within the sort of thing you’re writing. The City of Screaming Statues, things like that. You just write a list of them so you’ve got them there when you need them. Again, they have to cohere, have the right resonances, one with the other.

* The imagery comes before the action, because the action’s actually unimportant. An object to be obtained — limited time to obtain it. It’s easily developed, once you work the structure out.

* Time is the important element in any action adventure story. In fact, you get the action and adventure out of the element of time. It’s a classic formula: “We’ve only got six days to save the world!” Immediately you’ve set the reader up with a structure: there are only six days, then five, then four and finally, in the classic formula anyway, there’s only 26 seconds to save the world! Will they make it in time?

* The whole reason you plan everything beforehand is so that when you hit a snag, a desperate moment, you’ve actually got something there on your desk that tells you what to do.

* Once you’ve started, you keep it rolling. You can’t afford to have anything stop it. Unplug the phone and the internet, lock everyone
out of the house.

* You start off with a mystery. Every time you reveal a bit of it, you have to do something else to increase it. A good detective story will have the same thing. “My God, so that’s why Lady Carruthers’s butler Jenkins was peering at the keyhole that evening. But where
was Mrs. Jenkins?”

* In your lists, in the imagery and so on, there will be mysteries that you haven’t explained to yourself. The point is, you put in the mystery, it doesn’t matter what it is. It may not be the great truth that you’re going to reveal at the end of the book. You just think, I’ll put this in here because I might need it later. You can’t put in loads of boring exposition about something you have no idea of yourself.

* Divide your total 60,000 words into four sections, 15,000 words apiece. Divide each into six chapters. You can scale this up or down as you like, of course, but you’ll need more days — and stamina — for longer books, and keep chapters at 2.5k max. In section one the hero will say, “There’s no way I can save the world in six days unless I start by…” Getting the first object of power, or reaching the mystic place, or finding the right sidekick, or whatever. That gives you an immediate goal, and an immediate time element, as well as an overriding time demand. With each section divided into six chapters, each chapter must then contain something which will move the action forward and contribute to that immediate goal.

* Very often a chapter is something like: attack of the bandits —defeat of the bandits. Nothing particularly complex, but it’s another way you can achieve recognition: by making the structure of a chapter a miniature of the overall structure of the book, so everything feels coherent. The more you’re dealing with incoherence, with chaos — ie with speed — the more you need to underpin everything with simple logic and basic forms that will keep everything tight. Otherwise the thing just starts to spread out into muddle and abstraction.

* So you don’t have any encounter without at least information coming out of it. In the simplest form, Elric has a fight and kills somebody, but as they die they tell him who kidnapped his wife. Again, it’s a question of economy. Everything has to have a narrative function.

* Use the Lester Dent Master Plot Formula. [[I’ll put the formula at the end of Moorcock’s tips — Ghostwoods]] You must never have a revelation of something that wasn’t already established; so, you couldn’t unmask a murderer who wasn’t a character established already. All your main characters have to be in the first part. All you main themes and everything else has to be established in the first part, developed in the second and third, and resolved in the last part.

* There’s always a sidekick to make the responses the hero isn’t allowed to make: to get frightened; to add a lighter note; to offset the hero’s morbid speeches, and so on. The hero has to supply the narrative dynamic, and therefore can’t have any common-sense. Any one of us in those circumstances would say, ‘What? Dragons? Demons? You’ve got to be joking!’ The hero has to be driven, and when people are driven, common sense disappears. You don’t want your reader to make common sense objections, you want them to go with the drive; but you’ve got to have somebody around who’ll act as a sort of chorus.

* When in doubt, descend into a minor character. So when you reach an impasse, and you can’t move the action any further with your major character, switch to a minor character ‘s viewpoint, which will allow you to keep the narrative moving, and give you time to brew something.

Elric

Elric with his soul-drinking blade Stormbringer.

Lester Dent’s Master Plot Formula

You’ll also need to know the Lester Dent Master Plot Formula. Lester Dent was a hugely prolific writer of pulp fiction stories, and is particularly remembered for the Doc Savage tales, which he created and wrote the great bulk of. His masterplan is a blueprint for classic pulp fiction stories, and it retains a lot of power, even today.

Lester Dent’s penname is Kenneth Robeson. He is the creator of Doc Savage and author of that successful book-length magazine since its birth. He has been writing five years and often turns out 200,000 words a month. He has not had a rejection in the past three years. This article describes the master plot that Mr. Dent uses.

This is one opinion. It is opinion of one who believes in formula and mechanical construction, for a pulp yarn. It is opinion of one believing:

1—Majority of pulps are formula.

2—Most editors who say they don’t want formula don’t know what they are talking about.

3—Some eds won’t buy anything but formula.

Framed over this typewriter, on a bulkhead of my schooner now anchored off a bay in the Caribbean while we attempt to raise a Spanish treasure, is an object which tends to make the convictions mentioned appear to be facts—or an unexpected hallucination.

The object on the bulkhead is a formula, a master plot, for any 6000-word pulp story. It has worked on adventure, detective, western and war-air. It tells exactly where to put everything. It shows definitely just what must happen in each successive thousand words.

No yarn written to the formula has yet failed to sell.

Lester Dent

Lester Dent

A year or so ago, a rough form of this master plot was handed to a man who still had a first sale to make. If recollection is correct, he sold his next six yarns written to the master plot.

The business of building stories seems not much different from the business of building anything else. The idea is apparently to get materials, get a plan, and go to it.

The rough form of this story plan, this master plot, will follow. But first, it might be a good idea to consider some of the materials.

It seems likely that “character” rates as one of the principal story-making materials. Many a yarn comes back with /“Inadequate Characterization” /pencilled on a rejection slip, and a scribbler works up a headache trying to figure out what the hell that meant. It might help to glance over some barn door variety characterization gags that most professionals use.

A fair idea is to make out a list of characters before starting a yarn. Then it’s conceivably a better idea to try to get along with half the list.

For a detective yarn, several characters may be handy, to wit: /One/hero. One villain. Various persons to murder. It may not be a sure-fire thing to murder women, some editors being finicky that way. Somebody for the hero to rescue is often handy, too. Female. Not female, though, if the editor has what he is wont to quaintly call a “no woman interest” mag.

Characterizing a story actor consists of giving him some things which make him stick in the reader’s mind. Tag him. A tag may be described as something to recognize somebody by. Haile Selassie’s sheet and drawers might be called an appearance tag. So might Old John Silver’s wooden leg in /Treasure Island/. And movie comic Joe Brown’s big mouth. The idea is to show the tag to the reader so that he may thereby recognize the actor in the story. Instead of marching the character in only by name, parade the tag.

Mannerism tags may cover absent-minded gestures. Perhaps the villain (villainy at this point unknown) is often noted rubbing his eyes when in private or when thinking himself unobserved. At end of yarn, it turns out the color of his eyes has been disguised by the new style glass opticians’ cap which fits directly on the eyeball, and cap was irritating his eyes.

It’s nice to have tags take a definite bearing on the story. Not all can, however.

Disposition tags should not be overlooked. Is the character a hard guy? Does he love his women and leave ‘em—and later help them over the rough spots? This tagging might go on and on and become more and more subtle.

Characters usually have names. Occasionally an author is a literary Argus who writes a yarn carrying the actors through by their tags alone, then goes back and names them. This procedure is not necessarily to be advised, except a time or two for practice.

It is not a bad idea to use some system in picking names. Two characters in the yarn may not necessarily need names which look alike. Confusing the reader can be left to villains. If the hero’s name is Johnson, “J” and “son” names for the others might be avoided. Too, it may not be the best idea to go in for all very short names exclusively. And a worse idea is to go in for all long ones. Telephone books are full of names, but it’s an idea to twist them around, selecting a first name here, second one there. If nothing better is at hand, a newspaper, possibly the obit page, can help.

Now, about that master plot. It’s a formula, a blueprint for any 6000-word yarn.

A rough outline can be laid out with the typewriter, although some mental wizards may do it all in their heads. About a page of outline to every ten pages of finished yarn might serve.

Doc Savage

Doc Savage, Man of Bronze.

Here’s how it starts:

Devise one or more of the following:

1. A DIFFERENT MURDER METHOD FOR VILLAIN TO USE
2. A DIFFERENT THING FOR VILLAIN TO BE SEEKING
3. A DIFFERENT LOCALE
4. A MENACE WHICH IS TO HANG LIKE A CLOUD OVER HERO

One of these DIFFERENT things would be nice, two better, three swell. It may help if they are fully in mind before tackling the rest.

A different murder method could be–different. Thinking of shooting, knifing, hydrocyanic, garroting, poison needles, scorpions, a few others, and writing them on paper gets them where they may suggest something. Scorpions and their poison bite? Maybe mosquitoes or flies treated with deadly germs?

If the victims are killed by ordinary methods, but found under strange and identical circumstances each time, it might serve, the reader of course not knowing until the end, that the method of murder is ordinary. Scribes who have their villain’s victims found with butterflies, spiders or bats stamped on them could conceivably be flirting with this gag.

Probably it won’t do a lot of good to be too odd, fanciful or grotesque with murder methods.

The different thing for the villain to be after might be something other than jewels, the stolen bank loot, the pearls, or some other old ones. Here, again one might get too bizarre.

Unique locale? Easy. Selecting one that fits in with the murder method and the treasure–thing that villain wants–makes it simpler, and it’s also nice to use a familiar one, a place where you’ve lived or worked. So many pulpeteers don’t. It sometimes saves embarrassment to know nearly as much about the locale as the editor, or enough to fool him.

Here’s a nifty much used in faking local color. For a story laid in Egypt, say, author finds a book titled “Conversational Egyptian Easily Learned,” or something like that. He wants a character to ask in Egyptian, “What’s the matter?” He looks in the book and finds, “El khabar, eyh?” To keep the reader from getting dizzy, it’s perhaps wise to make it clear in some fashion, just what that means. Occasionally the text will tell this, or someone can repeat it in English. But it’s a doubtful move to stop and tell the reader in so many words the English translation.

The writer learns they have palm trees in Egypt. He looks in the book, finds the Egyptian for palm trees, and uses that. This kids editors and readers into thinking he knows something about Egypt.

So. The Master Plot itself.

Divide the 6000 word yarn into four 1500 word parts. In each 1500 word part, put the following:

* FIRST 1500 WORDS

1. First line, or as near thereto as possible, introduce the hero and swat him with a fistful of trouble. Hint at a mystery, a menace or a problem to be solved–something the hero has to cope with.
2. The hero pitches in to cope with his fistful of trouble. (He tries to fathom the mystery, defeat the menace, or solve the problem.)
3. Introduce ALL the other characters as soon as possible. Bring them on in action.
4. Hero’s endevours land him in an actual physical conflict near the end of the first 1500 words.
5. Near the end of first 1500 words, there is a complete surprise twist in the plot development.

SO FAR: Does it have SUSPENSE?
Is there a MENACE to the hero?
Does everything happen logically?

At this point, it might help to recall that action should do something besides advance the hero over the scenery. Suppose the hero has learned the dastards of villains have seized somebody named Eloise, who can explain the secret of what is behind all these sinister events. The hero corners villains, they fight, and villains get away. Not so hot. Hero should accomplish something with his tearing around, if only to rescue Eloise, and surprise! Eloise is a ring-tailed monkey. The hero counts the rings on Eloise’s tail, if nothing better comes to mind. They’re not real. The rings are painted there. Why?

* SECOND 1500 WORDS

1. Shovel more grief onto the hero.
2. Hero, being heroic, struggles, and his struggles lead up to:
3. Another physical conflict.
4. A surprising plot twist to end the 1500 words.

NOW: Does second part have SUSPENSE?
Does the MENACE grow like a black cloud?
Is the hero getting it in the neck?
Is the second part logical?

DON’T TELL ABOUT IT. Show how the thing looked. This is one of the secrets of writing; never tell the reader–show him. (He trembles, roving eyes, slackened jaw, and such.) MAKE THE READER SEE HIM.

Characterizing a story actor consists of giving him some things which make him stick in the reader’s mind. TAG HIM.

BUILD YOUR PLOTS SO THAT ACTION CAN BE CONTINUOUS.

* THIRD 1500 WORDS

1. Shovel the grief onto the hero.
2. Hero makes some headway, and corners the villain or somebody in:
3. A physical conflict.
4. A surprising plot twist, in which the hero preferably gets it in the neck bad, to end the 1500 words.

DOES: It still have SUSPENSE?
Is the MENACE getting blacker?
The hero finds himself in a hell of a fix?
It all happens logically?

If so, fine. These outlines or master formulas are only something to make you certain of inserting some physical conflict, and some genuine plot twists, with a little suspense and menace thrown in. Without them, there is no pulp story. These physical conflicts in each part might be DIFFERENT, too. If one fight is with fists, that can take care of the pugilism until next the next yarn. Same for poison gas and swords. There may, naturally, be exceptions. A hero with a peculiar punch, or a quick draw, might use it more than once.

When writing, it helps to get at least one minor surprise to the printed page. It is reasonable to to expect these minor surprises to sort of inveigle the reader into keeping on. They need not be such profound efforts. One method of accomplishing one now and then is to be gently misleading. Hero is examining the murder room. The door behind him begins slowly to open. He does not see it. He conducts his examination blissfully. Door eases open, wider and wider, until–surprise! The glass pane falls out of the big window across the room. It must have fallen slowly, and air blowing into the room caused the door to open. Then what the heck made the pane fall so slowly? More mystery.

The idea is to avoid monotony.

Suspense must be the sugar which draws the flies. And possibly it’s coupled up with the MENACE, a slightly intangible thing at first glance. Menace shouldn’t be hard to recognize in a story. It’s that /feel /of terrible things to happen to the hero and every other decent person. It might be built up by repeated references, a word dropped now and then, and by making the villain particularly bad.

Villians don’t necessarily have to be inhuman, though.

ACTION: Vivid, swift, no words wasted. Create suspense, make the reader see and feel the action.

ATMOSPHERE: Hear, smell, see, feel and taste.

DESCRIPTION: Trees, wind, scenery and water.

THE SECRET OF ALL WRITING IS TO MAKE EVERY WORD COUNT.

* FOURTH 1500 WORDS

1. Shovel the difficulties more thickly upon the hero.
2. Get the hero almost buried in his troubles. (Figuratively, the villain has him prisoner and has him framed for a murder rap; the girl is presumably dead, everything is lost, and the DIFFERENT murder method is about to dispose of the suffering protagonist.)
3. The hero extricates himself using HIS OWN SKILL, training or brawn.
4. The mysteries remaining–one big one held over to this point will help grip interest–are cleared up in course of final conflict as hero takes the situation in hand.
5. Final twist, a big surprise, (This can be the villain turning out to be the unexpected person, having the “Treasure” be a dud, etc.)
6. The snapper, the punch line to end it.

HAS: The SUSPENSE held out to the last line?
The MENACE held out to the last?
Everything been explained?
It all happen logically?
Is the Punch Line enough to leave the reader with that WARM FEELING?
Did God kill the villain? Make SURE it was the hero.

There it is. Take it, do what you can with it, while I go on deck, put on the diving hood, and have another try at that galleon, with the wife up the mast to keep an eye on the reefs for sharks and barracuda.

Note: Most published articles have interesting histories behind them. This one might interest some of you. Lester Dent sent us a modest little six-page article just about the time this magazine was going to press. The last line of the article mentioned his master plot formula; the famed master plot that has fed every Lester Dent story for the past several years.

We wondered if Mr. Dent would share that formula with the fraternity. We phoned his hotel in New York. “Sorry, Mr. Dent has gone to La Plata, Mo.” We phoned the village postmaster at La Plata. “Sorry, Mr. Dent is on his yacht, the /Albatross/.” “Where?” “Off Miami someplace; my goodness, why?” The long distance operator in Miami, a student of human nature if there ever was one, asked us a question: “How long has Mr. Dent been on his yacht?”

“Why?” we were glad to ask this for a change.

“Well, you see if he’s just bought a yacht he’s on deck running up flags, and then running them down again.”

“Oh.”

“But if he’s had it for a while, he’s below listening to his radio. If you want, I’ll have the police put out a call for him on short wave.”

We demurred. The operator coughed, letting us know she knew we were a plain sissy. To invade the privacy of an author anchored God only knows where by belching into his radio: “L-e-s-t-e-r D-e-n-t, Lester Dent call Miami police station. Yachts at sea off Miami, flag the /Albatross. /Owner wanted by police.” What a rummy we’ve turned out to be, we thought, as we gave the operator, who was by now politely sneering at us with her conversational coughs, the go ahead.

About two hours later a startled voice called us from Florida and asked what the hell we were up to. It seemed that every yacht off Miami caught the call and began signaling the /Albatross /while the rest of that busy little city came down to the wharf to see L-e-s-t-e-r D-e-n-t, a man obviously wanted by the police.

We explained demurely. And of such stuff are authors made that Mr. Dent agreed to send along his famed formula, although he added, with a touch of homespun: “I hadn’t ought to.”

It’s a pretty fine thing for an author to share such a hard-won secret with his competing professionals, so if you like this piece, we have a mild suggestion to make. Buy a copy of /Doc Savage /on the newsstands and if you like the lead story, tell the publishers so in a letter.

Three months later…a cautionary tale for Kickstarter Campaigns

Hi all,

I never thought running a Kickstarter would be easy but I thought I had covered my bases. I’m now almost three months post Resurrection Men #1 and I’ve still not managed for fulfil all my backer commitments. So with tonight’s post I thought I would share with you my experiences of running my first Kickstarter.

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1. Finish your product before you go live!

Now I know this might sound counterintuitive. You go to Kickstarter to find projects that have yet to be made, right? Wrong! Or at least for comics it is. If you have a finished product excellent, you are in such a better position than anyone else who hasn’t.

When I ran Rez Men I knew I had already got all the art drawn up by Rory and finished the majority of my lettering. If I did have to wait on art to be completed, my real life commitments would have made that challenging but by having the comic ready to go I could share it with it with world once the fees had cleared which I did!

Pro tip – Have the comic finished or as close as!

2. Speak to printers months before you plan to go live to work out your costs!

I was chatting with CPUK for almost a year before my Kickstarter went live and I’m so glad I did. I went through so many variations of what the final product could be that if I had left it longer I would be unsure of the product I would be giving to my backers. I was lucky to get recommend to Rick from CPUK as he humoured me to know end and helped me work out what I needed.

Pro tip – Find your printer early and chat often!

3. Get seen!

Jeez was I naive with this one! I thought, “I’ve spoke to people on social media and I’ve built up some social links of potential backers. That will more than cover any coverage I need for my Kickstarter!” Oh Nicholas, you silly boy!

Get your comic out to everyone that reviews comics. Tailor your targeting of people that like your type of comics. Build up a social media presence. Get involved with other creators in the community. At the end of day, you all tend to support each other anyway when it comes to crowd funding.

Pro tip – Create a press kit. Get your comic seen. Get yourself be seen. Share your love for comics. Be that person everyone likes cause your just so damn nice and no one can say no to!

4. Postage!

Postage is the devil! It is a money sink hole! Thankfully I was recommended by other creators to make sure I checked my fees before I launched the campaign and I would recommend you do this also! Do your research and always make sure you have all costings squared away! I still struggled with postage even with my prep!

Pro tip – Speak to your local post office and get your costings worked out and make sure to add the costs onto your rewards!

5. Don’t offer things you have little experience with!

So most of the stuff I offered for rewards I could create or had access too. As a result I have managed to complete most of my Kickstarter backers orders. However, one of the add ons was an audio commentary of the first issue. Now, I thought I could create that easily but I am three months down the line its still on my todo list.

Pro tip – Make sure all your digital materials are in place before you launch!

6. Stay strong when it fails!

As a teacher, one of my roles is to help instil a sense of resilience. We all fail. All the god damn time but it’s how we pick ourselves up and proceed that defines us. I know, it’s a cliche but it is cliche for a reason. There are nuggets of truth out there and this is one of them. I almost failed this Kickstarter. I was £500 short with less than a day to go but someone backed in at the last minute and saved the day. I was lucky. I hadn’t followed my other rules. I was cocky thinking I could raise £2000 easily. Don’t be me.

Pro tip – Be resilient.

7. Never forgot the kindness of strangers!

I think if there is one I can take away from this whole endeavour is that people that I have never met, backed big bucks to make my dream come true. Not all are stranger, danger! There are those that genuinely want to see your succeed!

Pro tip – There are awesome people in world. Be one of them!

Thats it for today. Hope someone finds this useful! Enjoy,

N.S. Paul

Resurrection Men #2 Teaser – How to Write Comics, the Indie Way!

The thing about writing comics and the reason I love it is that there are no set rules!

Sure there are guides, suggestions and best practices but comic writing at its heart is a no hold bars cage match of literature!

You don’t have to be an expert in a field to write comics. In fact, when I started Resurrection Men I was naive to believe that I could write a four issue series easily. Why not, right? Wrong. You may not need to be an expert but you need to able to create a plot, characters and drama.

When I write Resurrection Men I think of a scene. The scene often comes from some form of media I’ve seen or heard along the way. In the following examples taking from the upcoming issue 2 of Resurrection Men I’ll break down what I do and why. Let’s go write ahead.

So first things first, write Page 1 on the top of each page where you are writing for page 1. For example, this page stretches over a couple of pages in the script. When I hand this over to Rory it needs to be clear what page I am referring to.

Above extract from Y – The Last Man #18 by Brian K. Vaughan.

Next Panel 1. A panel is the place where the art the reader will see is placed. Pro tip; don’t hide details from artists. Jeez did I learn that quickly. Sure hide it from the reader if you need to but don’t hide stuff from the artist ever!

Above extract from The Killing Joke by Alan Moore – not my cup of tea but check out that description to the artist!

If you have references of what you mean fire that over to the artist. They are not a mind reader! Also when you introduce characters for the first time in your script, capitalise their names. It helps the reader who is really the artist know if someone is important.

On that note lets just highlight one of those pro tips again. I once read that your script is only actually for one person, the artist. Write it with them in mind. What do they need to know to make their job smoother. I can’t remember who wrote that piece of advice but follow it!

Above extract from Powers #1 by Brian Michael Bendis.

Right, the numbers before the dialogue. This is something for not only the artist but more importantly the humble and overlooked letterer. By having these numbers, first the artist can leave enough dead space for the dialogue to be placed but also lets the letterer know the order of the dialogue. Now if you are your own letterer, artist, writer and editor you can ignore this advice but if not please use this number system.

Lastly for today, keep your dialogue tight and not overly verbose. The old adage of show, not tell is paramount here. Think of all the comics you love and the ones you get bored with and you’ll probably see sharp dialogue. Also, want to stress something? Make it bold.

*Update*

Check the art by Rory Donald below based on that first panel.

Panel 1, Page 1

I hope you enjoyed this break down of the writing game and this wee teaser of Resurrection Men Issue 2.

See you soon,

N.S. Paul