Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Revision...Taming the Beast
The act of collaborative writing seems potentially disastrous. How is a unified character psychology established? How does one decide upon motivation, action, a characters voice etc. The process is wrought with frustration.
One of the things we have done is establish "kill cards" and "save cards" in which we are each allowed through democracy to kill those bits of story that are simply not reading well. If the writer is responsible for killing their darlings, we have set-up a firing squad. Ultimately, as a writer, it is important to always remember that your team has the collective goal of telling the best story possible, and not trying to tell their story.
With comics being a visual medium, pace is king, and conveying the most efficient flow of visual information is ultimately the most effective way of telling a story. Personally speaking, because this is my first go at creating a comic, my first draft of issue 1 was so packed with narrative information, the story ultimately was plotted over three issues. The revision was necessary, and allowed the story to breathe in a way that created a far more compelling narrative. The rewriting process for issue 1 took a year. Issue 4 has been written in under a month. Our work flow is improving.
One of the steps that allowed for this new efficiency has been employing the Marvel Method. Michael, Chris, and I will sit down together and beat out the plot points. From there, Michael will establish how much real estate panel wise I have to establish the emotional moments of the scene and convey the most information possible in the fewest words. I have a tendency to pack my panels and that doesn't always hit the mark. Comics has forced me to really layer my work and infuse each word with meaning so that it's echoes are felt throughout the entire series. It is a process more similar to constructing a poem than to telling a story. There is little room for digression.
After the draft is complete, it's time to bring in the firing squad, the only exception being, I know exactly where the bullet is coming from.