Monday, 14 September 2009

Starting out

Bare (bear?) in mind that this isn't exactly fresh in my memory now. We're probably talking a year, year and a half ago that the process of bringing the current comic project I am a part of to life began. Hell, it might even be more.

Also, it isn't like a lot of comic projects. Most have one writer and one artist, sometimes it's just the one guy who is lucky enough to be multi-talented that way.

The particular project I'm referring to is the start of Zombie Death Squad. This particular, as-yet-unpublished (but oh so tantalisingly close) comic is in fact a group effort. I won't go into the finding artists bit for the moment. I'm talking about how it started as a writer.

ZDS is written by myself, Drew Davies (who is, really, the daddy of ZDS), PJ Montgomery and Mat Trow. All very good writers who as yet don't really have anything published (as far as I'm aware, I hope the boys will correct me if this is not the case). We write it rather like a serialised TV show i.e. we together come up with the plots, often each of us having a specific plot in mind, and each of us hammering at it until it's perfect and it fits what we all want to do with the series (it is an ongoing project). Then, one of us will script the 'story' or arc in question, often the person who brought that particular story idea up in the first place.

It's a wonderful way to work. You have the benefit of several other writers working with you, telling you when you've been an absolute genius, and shooting you down before you go along too far with something that is turgid dross. It's fantastic, useful, frutrating and annoying all at once, and that is exactly how it should be. And for this particular project, this method works perfectly.

Which is exactly what I'm trying to get to here: before you even start on your road to creating your comic, you need to work out the basics of the writing. How are you going to write it? What style do you want the story to be told in? How do you want to work on it? Do you want help, or do you want to do this solo?

Once you've worked out that, it's a case of hammering away at your plot. You cannot just come up with a story on a whim and that's it. No one is that good. None of those writers you respect come out with genius on the first draft. They may come close; you may come close. But everything can stand a look over and a good trim and sprucing up. Do not be afraid to remove whole chunks of your plots, or characters even, if they simply don't work or don't fit.

You may in fact find that an excised scene or character becomes perfect for a different project, or a whole new story. More on that later, as it is something I had found out myself.

Once you have the story battered out, and I don't mean a script, you can leave that until a little later, but once your basic plot is perfect (show it to a friend if you want, it won't hurt even if they don't like it. But don't try to send it to your favourite writer. They will likely bin it stuff),then and only then can you really concentrate on moving things forward.

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