Friday, September 09, 2005

Let Them Do Their Thing

Let your characters write themselves.

That's one of the first pieces of advice a writer will always give you. We've all heard it. Some people think it's cliche, but for me, it's true. To really write a character, you have to understand that character and the character does start living a life of it's own in your stories that you simply start documenting. One of my favorite stories about this is the one Bendis tells about that issue of Ultimate Spider-Man where Aunt May goes to see the psychiatrist. Bendis totally wrote that for himself as an exercise to get into the character's mind to better understand her and her feelings for Peter in order to help drive future Spider-Man stories. It eventually got drawn and printed and became one of the most well-received issues of that series ever. By getting inside her mind, he let her tell her story.

When I write, I usually write in my head. I plot out a story and break it down mentally first. Then I write it all down, refine it, and send it in for approval. Once approval comes, I take into account any changes and then start writing the issue page by page, with dialogue, in my head. I know it's a strange way to work, and sometimes this may take a little longer to get a script out of me, but I'm a terrible typist and don't like sitting down to start before I know what I'm going to put on every page. It's at this mental stage that the characters write themselves into my stories. I flesh out their dialogue and walk them through the issue in my mind's eye first. So writing a script for me is basically transcribing their words and actions from my head.

Earlier this week I was working on a short story with a character I knew pretty well and I had her story all worked out in my head. Or at least I thought I did. But as I was sitting there typing it out, her story changed! I got to page four of the script and the character took me in a completely different direction than I had originally mapped out in my head. It was really odd as that is usually not the way I work. She was being a rebellious teen and even though I tried to push the story back in the direction I originally intended, a direction both the editor and artist had approved when I pitched it, she wouldn't go. So consequences be damned, I went with it. As I sat there at the keyboard, I let this young lady change the path of her story for me. Some of the things she did surprised me. I questioned myself at times, but went with it. And you know what? It came out better for it. I'm much happier with the this new version of the story than I am with the version I had originally planned. So are the artist and editor.

Sometimes you just have to let them go, I guess.

1 comment:

Scott Sackett said...

C.B. I was wondering how detailed are your scripts? Do you break down the panels? Do you put in any art instruction?

After some of your books start coming out would you consider posting a few pages of your script?
As an artist trying to move into fulltime comics, I would be interested in seeing what one of your scripts looks like.