How to Be a Comic Book Writer

Essentials Needed to Be a Comic Book Writer

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The writer of a comic book tells the story through words, which the artist then turns into pictures. It is the writer’s job to set things up like characters, plot, setting, dialog, and other elements like pacing, action, emotion, and closure. The writer is the visionary of the team, creating the basic world, who lives in it, and what they do.

Skills Needed

The writer needs many skills to be successful.

  • Good communication skills – The writer needs to be able to tell things in a way that is too the point and clear.
  • A visionary mind – You need to be able to see where you are going. This could be as simple as a basic idea, “What would happen if a child found out they had super powers.” Or it could be as complex as having the entire world, characters, and story built.
  • Strong grasp of grammar – In almost every interview I read with editors, it is interesting to see how many errors they come across in a pitch. Having a strong grasp on grammar will only help you in the long run. Use a dictionary, or spell check is even better, but be sure to proofread everything.
  • Flexible attitude – Things don’t always go like you plan. An editor might want you to do something different to your script and change a scene here or a bit of dialog there. Being flexible will allow you to keep your vision as well as being able to get your comic finished.
  • Professional behavior – Don’t be flaky. Do your best work. Get things done on time, especially if you said you would.

Equipment Needed

Basic Equipment

  • Writing Utensil – Your writing utensil could be as simple as a pen and paper or as complex as a computer. Use what works best for you. The argument for pen and paper is pretty simple, it’s readily available, portable, and doesn’t take time to start up. Writer Neil Gaiman has written his latest work in a notebook all by hand. Having a computer will be a great asset for any writer. Not only does it have great programs like Spell Check, Word Processing Software, Email, and Internet, but it also has ways to store and back up your information. You can make hard copies like a print out of your work, burn a CD, or even store information and files online. I would imagine that most writers nowadays use their computers extensively, not only for writing, but for research, connectivity, and promotion.
  • Dictionary – A dictionary of some sort is vital, knowing how to spell words correctly will only add to your professional appearance.
  • Thesaurus – Having a bank of words to choose from can be a great asset. It will keep your work from sounding repetitive and stale.
  • Spell Check/Editor – You must have some way of checking for grammatical errors. If you don’t have a computer with Spell Check, then either edit it yourself or have someone else do it for you. If you do use Spell Check, be sure not to rely solely on it. Spell Check will not often fix words that are spelled correctly but used incorrectly. Proofread your work.


Optional Equipment

  • Idea File/Notebook – Having a place to store those flashes of brilliance can be a lifesaver. Nothing’s worse than having a great idea one day and losing it the next. You can keep a file card system, a notebook, PDA, or whatever you like. Director Guillermo Del Toro keeps a notebook with him at all times, filling it with ideas, pictures, and thoughts about his latest projects.
  • Website – Having a website can be a very important part of the writer's career. It can do many things including giving a way for fans to connect with you, promote your latest projects, and even keep your resume on file. There are many ways now to get a free website, with places like Myspace, Comicspace, and Wordpress to name a few.
  • Books – It has been said that good writers are also good readers. Knowing how others approach the craft of writing can give you insight into the process and give ideas as to trying something new. Don’t just read comic books, read any great writing that you can find.

Some Comic Book Writers

Stan Lee
Will Eisner
Frank Miller
Neil Gaiman
Mark Millar
Brian Michael Bendis
Geoff Johns

So You Want to Be a Writer?

If you are serious about being a writer of any sort, the best thing to do now is to start writing. It can be summed up from Sci Fi great Robert A. Heinlein, “You must write.” Think, dream, envision, and then write it down.