Writing For The Medium Essay, Research Paper
Writing for the Medium
Entertainment is a major focus in our society. Nothing can interest us more than watching a good movie, television show, or a great comic book. Many people have interests outside of these mediums, but you would have to go pretty far to find someone who has not seen a fictional work in the visual form.
At one time I thought that television shows and movies worked straight from books in novel form, I was wrong. They could start out in novel form, but they end up in screenplay form. When I thought of screenplays, I always thought of actual plays that are performed on stage. But if you wish to write for movies, television, and comic books you must also think and write in the form of screenplays.
Screenplays are very much different than novel writing. In a typical novel you can have up to 400 pages in which to read. In a screenplay the text is very compact and you can read as little as 100 pages. The main idea behind screenplays is to combine dialogue and images. This can also be done in a novel format but in a screenplay the two are separated distinctly.
When discovering the format of the screenplay I found myself thinking that it would be possible to write many ideas I have in a short amount of time. In a novel I would concentrate on too many details. When I read a novel I wish it to move along in a fast pace. And sometimes the novel goes off in too many directions and it is hard to stay focused. If it was not for a class assigning a certain book to read I probably would not even bother picking it up unless the subject of the book really interested me. In most commercial book stores the top ten books in the country usually stay around 300 pages. A good idea for novel writers to do is to create a story and divide it up into many sections in which to read. This way a reader can be built up enough to pick up the next book in the series.
In screenplays the dialogue is focused upon in better detail than the novel. The author can script movements that look better in this format than in the form of a novel. A book that reads, “and Erika slapped James in the face before walking out of a room,” could be put better to screenplay by this example, “Erika with a swivel in her torso brings her open hand to meet the left side of James’ face. She then walks in a huff out of the room with a blank look on her face.”
When you write for a comic it is possible to think in terms of writing a number of panels. It will probably be the job of the editor to determine the size of the panel the artist will draw. Whenever I have read comics the number of panels is usually between 80 to 100 panels, not including the cover of the comic which is sometimes important to a comic book.
A comic book outline is something like this. The first aspect of a comic book is the cover. The cover is usually the most striking moment in the particular comic book. This is the main character like Spiderman being looked upon by a powerful menace to the society that he must defeat, like the Green Goblin. In an ongoing series the first panel may show what was being left off in the last issue, followed by a brief summary of past events. The title is also shown in the first panel as well. A strong first panel could be…”Spiderman is not having a good day. Not only has the Green Goblin appeared to be coming back from the dead after being impaled by his hovering glider, but now it turns out he has been messing up his life by having his infant daughter killed during her birth and also endangering his wife Mary Jane.”
In general, the hero is always the most unlikely person conceivable. Either he is so boringly ordinary that it’s hard to imagine him giving up an evening watching tv than to bash a few master criminals. Or if the hero is a immensely rich, famous and philanthropic that you would think he would have something better to do with his time. The ideal hero would always be all that he can. He always has square shoulders and a square jaw, and even occasionally a square head. This makes him easier for the artist to draw.
The villain is an easy concept to visualize. Just keep in mind that he is not an ordinary normal guy next door type of villain. Evil people are usually stereotypical. They have European trash accents, moustaches, a different look to the local norm, a manic laugh, and a sense for running multinational corporation (most writers believe that putting a villain in a skyscraper setting with lots of bodyguards with machine guns are guarding the place is the norm).
The villainesses is a woman of beauty that has no match (unless their is a hero’s love interest lucking about). They have all the above traits, but they have a special interest in the male hero in the form of an attraction. They always seem to get away scot free from the hero who also has a special interest in the villainess so they can come back to intrigue the hero in other issues.
Sidekicks are there for the hero and the villain to make them look better. They may have the hero/villain look stronger, braver, cleverer than anyone else. It is also a writer helper to have someone the hero has to explain things to in order for the reader to understand what is going on. Every once in a while the sidekick can save the hero, but the other main job is to come up with witty quips that will make the reader laugh. The profile of a sidekick is one of smaller stature than the hero and is a young age, around 14. The idea behind this is to relate to the young minded reader. But it has been my experience that young adults happen to be the general profile these days.
Costumes for all the heroes, villains, and sidekicks are always visually appealing or out of the ordinary. Colors are used to clash with everything, and side items such as capes and other accessories are always added to also make things more visual. Sometimes the guns are bigger than normal. Or maybe the muscles are enlarged to abnormal proportations. But one characteristic is for sure, women’s breasts are more out there and men’s groins appear to be non-existent. The visual aspects here are totally geared toward the young male reader.
Dialogue is also standardized. There are always declarations such as:
“This means that my secret identity may have been discovered.”
“If I do not fight this maniac in hand to hand combat the whole city will be destroyed.”
“To the ____!” (Insert name of vehicle)
“Luckily, I happen to have my ____!” (Name of unlike device)
“I shall destroy you, then the whole world will be in my power.”
“Stand back, he’s mine”
It is the job of the writer to read as much as possible of the entire script or plot first. You never know when a later page or issue may contradict something drawn on an earlier page or issue. Writers, artists, and editors must work together in order to complete a strong issue. In the artistic aspect of the comic, the writer must use points of view that the artist can use. For example, the writer must write that a establishing shot must be drawn in order for the reader to picture where the overall scene is located. This can be done by showing a wide shot of the Grand Canyon if this is used. Captions are used in case some scenes need to be explained better. Such as a caption saying, “meanwhile in another room of the house,” or a caption giving a short summary of a character. An example of a panel could be something like this:
Wide shot: Spider has just finished punching out the mugger. He picks up the purse still swinging from his webline. He looks like someone casually picking up the purse but it would look difficult to the woman in the red dress as Spiderman gives it back to her.
Spiderman:Here you go, this purse matches your outfit better than his.
Woman in red dress: (awestruck) Thank you Spiderman…
Spiderman:Don’t worry the fashion police should be around anytime now to take care of him.
Sound effects can occur in a comic. They are read and they add to the entire panel. A man killing another man has a cracking sound as the neck is twisted. Instead of writing the neck cracked. The reader would see “CRACK.” Usually the lettering is in bold letters or whatever way the artist draws it in order to get the reader attention. Not all sounds are easily drawn. Sometimes a phonetic spelling is needed to illustrate the sound of the action, such as “eeeeaaaaahhh!” or “brakabraka” for sounds that give the impression of screaming or gunfire.
Fights have to be visual as well. The laws of physics do not always apply to action scenes. Poses are always shown to make the hero more masclene when throwing a punch. Moving from scene to scene is never exhausting for the hero. You will never see a character out of breath unless it is after a big battle of some sort. The settings of these fights are always disposable. Cars are crushed, windows are shattered, building are blown up, but they never hurt or kill the hero unless the series is about to end.
At the end of an issue all the plots may not be resolved. In this case a “to be continued” caption will be the last thing a reader sees until the next issue. The writer will usually leave open ended stories for further development in other issues. What really hits a reader when reading a comic is the story itself. When writing a story in the old style it is said that a villain does something nasty to people. Then the hero fights the villain. And finally the villain is either captured and goes to jail, or dies in a semi-accidental event that is not the fault of the hero.
Nowadays stories have the villain coming out on top. Sexual plots are overshadowed by the women characters. In other words anything goes, and graphic violence is the norm. Some publications try to avoid the hard extreme, but the lesser known publishing houses snatch up any story that will sell, sell, sell. It is up to the morals of the writer that stops the truly harmful comic books. But still, I am a firm believer that readers know better than to imitate questionable characters. I do not believe that pornographic comics should ever reach the hands of impressionable children.
In order to become a good writer, one must always write and read. A writer has to keep up with current events because that might be the starting point of a good story. A side note to artist would also be to keep drawing. Draw everything you see because you never know how well it will work in a comic book unless you picture it.
Comedy is a strong device to use in comics. It keeps the reader’s attention when a storyline gets a little too far out of their perceptions. A good line gag is good for bringing the reader back to the action. A reader might think after reading a funny line, “what was going on up to that point that made that character say that?” and the reader might even go back and reread such as I do. Some comics are only meant for comedy. In a more series title comedy should not be used too much or the reader will think that the story is a parody which it is not.