A study in creating great characters, by Aaron Ehasz (head writer of Avatar the Last Airbender). A lot of animation lead characters are forced to fit the far right criteria, but think of the many classic characters that are better described by the left: Tony Soprano, Frank Underwood, Jamie Lannister, Walter White, etc.
"People say to write about what you know. I’m here to tell you, no one wants to read that, because you don’t know anything. So write about something you don’t know. And don’t be scared, ever."
"There are some themes, some subjects, too large for adult fiction; they can only be dealt with adequately in a children’s book.
The reason for that is that in adult literary fiction, stories are there on sufferance. Other things are felt to be more important: technique, style, literary knowingness. Adult writers who deal in straightforward stories find themselves sidelined into a genre such as crime or science fiction, where no one expects literary craftsmanship.
But stories are vital. Stories never fail us because, as Isaac Bashevis Singer says, “events never grow stale.” There’s more wisdom in a story than in volumes of philosophy. And by a story I mean not only Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk but also the great novels of the nineteenth century, Jane Eyre, Middlemarch, Bleak House and many others: novels where the story is at the center of the writer’s attention, where the plot actually matters. The present-day would-be George Eliots take up their stories as if with a pair of tongs. They’re embarrassed by them. If they could write novels without stories in them, they would. Sometimes they do.
But what characterizes the best of children’s authors is that they’re not embarrassed to tell stories. They know how important stories are, and they know, too, that if you start telling a story you’ve got to carry on till you get to the end. And you can’t provide two ends, either, and invite the reader to choose between them. Or as in a highly praised recent adult novel I’m about to stop reading, three different beginnings. In a book for children you can’t put the plot on hold while you cut artistic capers for the amusement of your sophisticated readers, because, thank God, your readers are not sophisticated. They’ve got more important things in mind than your dazzling skill with wordplay. They want to know what happens next."
Anonymous asked: How does one write for a webcomic or a comic in general?
This is a loaded question. Comics combine visual art and the written word to create something unique, and it’s very difficult to give tips on how to make art of this kind without being a comics creator myself.
With those facts firmly in mind, here are my general bits of advice about learning to create comics.
- Read comics. Read graphic novels and Sunday paper strips and webcomics. Just as reading other writers’ work can improve a writer’s style and understanding of the art, so too can reading other comics improve a comics creator’s style and understanding.
- Read The Comic Books series by Scott McCloud. The books are Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art, Reinventing Comics: How Imagination and Technology Are Revolutionizing an Art Form, and Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels.
Understanding Comics really helped me take a closer look at the way I read comics, their function and method and form. It is an interesting, fun, easy-to-read book that is crammed with great tips for comics creators.
- Study fine art, good writing, and pop culture. Study fine art to get a grounding in the style and composition. Study good writing to find examples of story structure and the importance word choice. Study pop culture to understand what and how people consume the art around them. From music to advertisement to movies, videos, and memes on the internet, tapping in to pop culture will help you find topics to write about and a niche to nestle into.
My strategy has always been to find the story that needs to be told to your generation and hold yourself responsible to tell it. After all, only you know what that story is and what it can be. Go and share it with the world.
So, how do you learn to create comics and webcomics? To quote my favorite line in the Bleeding Cool series (see below), “You teach yourself. You find a way to put in however much time and effort is necessary to gain whatever you need to gain.” (x)
Here are a few great resources on creating comics:
Thank you for your question! If you have any other writing-related questions or any comments about this post, hit us up!
If anyone is a comics creator and would like to chime in here, we’d love to include your thoughts! Submit or message us, and we will add your advice to this post!
I’d like to also add:
Study everything else on the side but if you want to make a webcomic: jump right in and make one. You’ll learn a lot as you go.